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Public Invited to Review Gnoss Field Runway Expansion

August 5, 2008

By Joe Wolfcale, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

Aug. 5–Wetlands, endangered species and aircraft safety will be among the topics when the county hosts a forum Aug. 14 on a proposal to lengthen the runway at Gnoss Field north of Novato.

County officials say the 1,100-foot extension to the north end of the runway is necessary for safety reasons. In addition, the extension will enable heavier planes to land and take off in poor weather.

“There’s very much a logical reason for doing this,” said Jeff Rawles, deputy director of the county’s Public Works Department. “This meeting is an opportunity for those in the public to raise any issues they want us to study that we don’t already know about.”

The current Gnoss Field runway — 3,300 feet long and 75 feet wide — sits amid wetlands that include endangered species.

The county has hired a Los Angeles-based environmental consultant for more than $500,000 to conduct environmental studies. If the environmental process goes smoothly, Rawles construction on the extension could begin in about two years.

“Right now, it’s hard to say, but that’s our best guess now,” Rawles said.

The extension is expected to cost about $2 million. About $1.5 million will be needed for consultants and environmental studies.

Marin County Supervisor Judy Arnold said the key issues need review. “I know there are a number of problems that need to be addressed, but most importantly, we have to follow federal environmental standards,” Arnold said. “The board voted in favor of this project,” she

added. “It’s important for a lot of reasons.”

Gnoss Field, built in the late 1960s, handles 125,000 takeoffs and landings annually. About 300 planes are based there.

The airport is surrounded by a system of levees and ditches designed to protect it from flooding and channel drainage. Typically, single and twin engine propeller aircraft and some small business jet aircraft use the runway.

Contact Joe Wolfcale via e-mail at jwolfcale@marinij.com

A public meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at Marin Humane Society offices, 171 Bel Marijn Keys Blvd., to discuss the environmental impacts of the runway extension at Gnoss Field in Novato. The county has established a Web site, www.gnossfieldeis-eir.com

Read more Novato stories at the IJ’s Novato section.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

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