Emily AndersonFree Press Staff Writer

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May 15, 2007
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Mayors want Walker Field to keep its name

Grand Junction, CO ColoradoGRAND JUNCTION The possibility of renaming Walker Field the Grand Junction Regional Airport has Grand Junctions mayor feeling disrespected and two area mayors feeling left out.The Walker Field Airport Authority Board of Commissioners will vote whether to approve a name change for the airport at a 5:15 meeting tonight at Walker Field. The agenda suggests changing the airports name to Grand Junction Regional Airport.A mention of the name change in a February airport authority agenda and a brief e-mail April 12 are the only snippets of information Grand Junction Mayor Jim Doody said hes received on the possible rename. A lack of open discussion and public hearings has Doody wondering if the airport authority intends to be slightly sneaky while deciding whether or not to advance the name change.The airport authority seems to be in stealth mode. Theyre flying under the radar, Doody said. Im just disappointed in how this has gone down.A half dozen people from local businesses, the Visitor and Convention Bureau and the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the name change at a public meeting of the airport authority May 7.Proponents of the changing the airports name to include the words Grand Junction say it could attract more airlines and passengers. Gregg Palmer, a Grand Junction City Council member and Walker Field Airport Authority commissioner, said the Walker Field moniker can confuse out-of-towners since it doesnt include the word airport. The confusion has even resulted in a few people trying to schedule softball practice there, Palmer said. Putting Grand Junction in the name, though, could help supply meet demand for travel in and out of the area, he said.With more name recognition, we could get more supply, said Palmer.Marketing takes more than a name change, said Fruita Mayor Jim Adams and Palisade Mayor Doug Edwards. The mayors oppose the name change in part because Walker Field encompasses the entire Grand Valley, they said, and also the suggested new name cuts their communities out of the equation. I dont think it will bring in more air traffic just because of a name change. I always thought the length of the runway determined that, Edwards said.They need to market the airport, not market the name, Adams said. Adams estimated the name change would cost $1 million. That bottom line includes signage, printed materials and other incidentals. Walker Field Manager Rex Tippetts, who hasnt taken a position on the name change, said the name will simply reflect its location, like many other airports.Does Denver International Airport leave out Lakewood? he said.Walker Field took its name in 1942, 12 years after opening under the name Grand Junction Municipal Airport as a one-hangar operation. Naming the airport after historical figure Walter Walker, who helped garner business support and funds for the airport, is something Doody doesnt take lightly.Walker also published The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. You name historical things for a reason youre honoring something they did, he said.Instead of changing the airports name, Doody suggested the airport authority change its name and market itself and the airport through the title Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority at Walker Field.The benefit will be the same, Doody said.To those with sentimental attachment to the Walker Field brand, the airport authority offers three landmarks named or to be named in Walkers honor. The existing terminal and fire building are already named for Walker, and the $19 million roadway being constructed now will be called Walter Walker Blvd.Palmer expressed confidence the airport authority will approve the new name.To be honest, I think its going to be unanimous, Palmer said. Reach Emily Anderson at eanderson@gjfreepress.com.

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The Post Independent Updated May 15, 2007 12:32AM Published May 15, 2007 12:32AM Copyright 2007 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.