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Renton Airport status remains unchanged

Islanders received an update on the Renton Airport — a bygone hot-button issue — at Tuesday's City Council meeting. No action was taken regarding the informational agenda item.

The briefing covered operations at the Renton Airport, guidelines for aircraft access to the airport and noise complaints related to flight noise.

The Renton Airport, which ranks as the top sixth airport in Washington state and predominantly serves single-engine piston aircraft, was the center of debate on Mercer Island in 2007 when the facility considered adding a corporate jet center; however, the airport announced in early 2008 that it would remain unchanged after Boeing decided to continue using the airport.

"Boeing made it all moot when they (renewed) the aprons next to the runway, the space that Renton was considering for the corporate jet center," said City Manager Rich Conrad.

Conrad said Boeing's decision ensures the Renton Airport will continue to operate the same way it has for many decades.

"It put everything back to where it was," he said.

Over the past two decades, the Renton Airport has seen a decline in take-offs and landings, also called operations. From 1989-1990 there were 142,575 operations, compared to 2008-2009's 83,269 operations.

Noise complaints were kept to a minimum before 2004; however, Islanders called in 17 complaints in 2005, 56 in 2006, 112 in 2007, 83 in 2008 and 15 in 2009. So far this year, 22 Islanders' complaints have been filed.

Noise complaints piqued in 2007, the same year Renton considered adding a corporate jet center. The proposed center angered many Island residents because it could have increased the amount of air traffic noise over the Island.

City Council member Mike Cero sits on the Renton Airport Advisory Committee, a volunteer citizen committee, which was formed in 2001 to study ways in which the airport could sustain its economic value while minimizing the noise impacts of aircraft using the airport.

Renton and Mercer Island residents are occasionally affected by noise associated with the fluctuations in air traffic, according to the report update.

There are a total of 283 single engine planes, 14 multi-engine planes, 14 helicopters, three jets and one glider currently based at the airport.

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