Treeport: What it is (and isn’t)

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Costigan

By BOB COSTIGAN

Regarding the story about Treeport neighbors seeing assessments soar, if you had done your homework, as any budding reporter should, you might have gotten a prize. Treeport is not an airport. It is a trap for the unwary.

In 1980, Treeport was intended to be a commercial airport. It went through all of the hoops in Bonner County, which its sister plat in Kootenai County did not. I looked at that property in 1993. I made several landings there in a Cessna as well as a Beech 180. The airport is a crash waiting to happen and without any facilities.

I made several approaches from the FAA facility to the east and found it well below standard, landing from the west, over the forest and down slope, as well as up slope to the west. The FAA dropped the site from the World Aeronautical Charts even for emergency use, and Idaho dropped it as a facility. Given a real emergency, I would have used the highway or the runway at the amusement park. Colorado has some challenging runways for approach and departure, but Treeport isn’t safe for fixed-wing aircraft.

Why did Kootenai County commissioners approve building permits on 13 properties adjacent to a commercial airport or for that matter any airport without an appropriate setback? They didn’t see a planned commercial airport across the county line.

My friend, Bob Luten, bought two lots in the Spirit Lake East Plat 107 and 305. I was instructing Bob in the Beech as well as a helicopter at the Spokane Air Terminal off runway one. His wife, Lou, wanted a Colorado-type home in an airport park, so I designed one and ACI did the plans. I took it to the commissioners and they approved it, even though the lot length from the SLEHOAINC private road is less than 1,500 feet on the east side. The fire marshal kept the plan for the ICAO fire design. The hangar was built. I approved it for the SLEHOAINC ARC.

Bob died. Lou sold both properties and went back to Florida. The ICAO hangar probably has a Harley sitting in it.

Maybe the authority in Bonner County thinks they are flying Ford tri-motors out of Treeport. The commissioners put an end to the unwary traveler on their public roads using Treeport to access the private roads in Spirit Lake East Plat. They should close the “airport” as well. Each adjacent property owner owns a piece of the “Airport Strip” as well as their 5-acre parcel. I didn’t see that mentioned in your article. It would seem to be a major disadvantage if someone spun, crashed and burned, thinking it was a legitimate airstrip and held the property owners responsible. It has the distinct smell of lawsuit. I would recommend great big XXXXXX at each end. Fifteen property owners are holding on to a very big bag. Suck it up.

You might want to mention that to your advertising department in case some Realtor gets carried away.

•••

Bob Costigan, a retired Navy pilot, lives in Spirit Lake.

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