AAC Chief Reassures Assembly on Access

Thursday, September 8, 2016 - 09:45

Kodiak Daily Mirror - By JOANN SNODERLY

In an address to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly last week, Alaska Aerospace Corp. CEO Craig Campbell said there are currently no plans to cut off public access at Narrow Cape beyond what is needed for launches, but he stopped short of saying that commitment would continue should the company privatize.

“Alaska Aerospace, as a partner with the borough and the residents, will always look to making sure that our facilities are available to the public, and if you ever receive calls about Fossil Beach and problems about access to it because of us, let me know,” Campbell told the assembly. “The only time we will ever close Fossil Beach is when we have a live operation. It’s usually a few hours at a time as you’ve seen in the past, and every other time, access to our area is wide open.”
The comments came during Campbell’s overview of the rebuild of the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska following an August 2014 launch explosion at the facility.
Assembly members Rebecca Skinner and Dan Rohrer pressed him for more information on potential public access limitations for Narrow Cape, including Fossil Beach, a popular recreation spot for Kodiak residents.
Skinner asked about the number and timing of launches, and how long access would be limited for those launches.
“Right now, we’re projecting six to eight launches a year out of Kodiak,” Campbell said. He said access could be shut down four to eight hours for each launch, with launches possible in any season.
The Federal Aviation Administration-issued license for the facility allows nine launches per year.
Assembly member Dan Rohrer asked what assurances the community has that public access would not be limited in the future.
Campbell said he has “nothing in writing to offer,” but because it is owned by the state, the corporation has a responsibility to act in the best interest of the community.
Rohrer expressed concern that, should AAC move forward with plans to privatize, access commitments to Fossil Beach would change. He said having an agreement in writing could help put the community at ease.
Campbell said the state will likely retain ownership of the PSCA facility even if the parent company privatizes. Stipulations could be included in such a private-public partnership to ensure the company does not act “outside of the public interests of the citizens of this island and the state,” he said.
“I believe that’s what I’m hearing from the board,” Campbell said. “I believe that’s what they’re driving towards. We’re not there yet, though, so I’m not committing to it.”