Renton airport noise study will cost more

Community meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at CCMV

By J. Jacob Edel
Mercer Island Reporter

City Council members unanimously approved spending more money for noise experts to study the potential effects of expanding the Renton Airport.

Under the agreement approved by the Council last Monday, the study will cost about $15,000 more than the city anticipated. However, the extra funds for the study won’t affect the $150,000 the Council allotted for the city’s involvement concerning the airport. That figure includes the noise study, extra staff work needed and legal representation.

While Council members did not express concerns about the additional cost, they had questions about the process and how they would be included in the subsequent decisions about Renton Airport plans. Current special projects consultant and former interim deputy city manager, Linda Herzog, asked how the Council planned to collaborate with its Renton counterpart after the noise study report is completed.

“We need to sit down with them and discuss how we will utilize the information and reach an agreement once we have the data. We should put it in writing now so there are no surprises later,” said Mayor Bryan Cairns about post-noise study collaboration.

As for the cost increase of the study, Councilmembers did not seem surprised. Herzog assured the Council the city would not spend more than the $150,000 they budgeted.

“In order not to go over our total budget, we will be cutting back on the other two line items,” Herzog said. “Kaplan Kirsch (the city’s air attorney) and myself could spend less time working on this issue to make up the cost difference.”

The Boston-based firm Harris, Miller, Miller and Hanson (HMMH) will conduct the noise study for a total of $131,050. Each city will pay half, or $65,525. The City Council originally approved spending up to $50,000 for the study. However, both cities decided to hire HMMH over six other firms contacted. According to city officials, HMMH was selected after both cities interviewed three of those companies. Herzog and city manager Rich Conrad also stated that the attorney, Kirsch, highly recommended HMMH.

“They’re known to be the best in their field,” Conrad said.

The agenda bill before the Council also read, “HMMH is known for its exceptional expertise, reports from prior clients of successful work and excellent communication capability.” Herzog said city staff were confident any of the noise experts contacted could perform the study, but HMMH had a reputation for taking the extra step to explain their work and methods to the clients, in this case Renton and Island citizens and city officials.

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