Communications Tower Planned at Airport

It would be part of a nationwide, new-generation satellite system.

By Rachel Pritchett


Planning is under way for a new, 75-foot-tall antenna at Bremerton National Airport designed to improve communications between aircraft and ground control.

The Federal Aviation Administration and ITT Corp. are building a nationwide “automatic dependent surveillance broadcast” satellite system for better communication. It consists of a web of towers that, starting around 2013, would provide a next-generation system of aircraft communication, explained airport director Fred Salisbury at a Port of Bremerton meeting Tuesday.

The FAA and ITT have asked the Port of Bremerton to locate a tower at the airport, in part because the airport is close to Seattle. Construction is expected this summer.

When the entire network is completed, low- and high-flying aircraft at airports like Bremerton National will have the ability to track each other better, and to better receive on-board information such as weather conditions.

The cost of building the antenna and of maintaining would be shouldered by the FAA.

It would be located near the north end of the airport runway.

Salisbury said other sites new antennas include oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, to improve communications in that vast expanse of space.

“I think this is a really good thing for the airport, and the area,” Salisbury said.

In other news:

Port Attorney Gorden Walgren’s suspicions were right that this was not the right session to ask the legislature for money. Bills did not pass that would have given the port big sales-tax exemptions for costs in the building of an incubator building for the wished-for SEED, or Sustainable Energy and Economic Development, project.

 Acting CEO Tim Thomson is negotiating with a business tenant on a lease for a new building constructed by the port that has stood empty for months. If successful, the tenant would take up half the medium-sized building.

The boat-occupancy rate at the port’s year-old Bremerton Marina currently is 29 percent. The goal is to bump that up to 50 percent this year, said Steve Slaton, the port’s director of marine facilities. Meanwhile, the Port Orchard Marina is 96 percent filled.

Commissioners said that public-documents requests are taking significant staff time to respond to, and asked that they be given regular information on who is making the requests and for what. Commissioner Larry Stokes said that it could get to the point that new staff will have to be hired to respond to the requests.

Port leaders have proceeded on plans to get some public-relations help to help with various causes. While commissioners had earlier agreed to hold off hiring PR services until a permanent chief executive officer was hired, it turned out that the effort nonetheless went forward.

Three finalists will be interviewed next week. One supposedly will be hired for 90 days, and it is not know now whether they would continue on.

Commissioner Bill Mahan said it’s a good bet the port will receive $3 million in stimulus funds for a new road crossing the South Kitsap Industrial Area and connecting potential commercial development areas. The port is positioning itself funds from an upcoming second round of stimulus funds, he said.

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