County airport manager resigns
Nevada County’s airport manager resigned Wednesday, saying in diplomatic tones that after two years on the job he was leaving on his own accord.
“We all get to make choices about what we do, and I’m going to go out graciously,” said Gary Petersen, whose last day on the job is Feb. 27.
Asked if push factors prompted his departure, Petersen repeatedly said that he enjoyed working with “a lot of great people” and that he helped remedy a series of problems.
Chief among them was a controversy over neighbors’ trees and airport light poles that encroached flight patterns. The issue suspended night flights until Petersen and others helped reach a compromise.
“Trees got cut, and the light poles got solved,” he said.
The resignation drew mixed reactions from others associated with the airport.
“He’s solved so many problems for us,” county Supervisor Peter Van Zant said. “I’m not sure why he’s going, but I think it’s going to be a big loss.”
Ben Nowland, president of the Airport Preservation Ad Hoc Committee, a group of pilots who use the airport, gave Petersen’s performance a passing grade but questioned the county expense of hiring a full-time manager in the first place.
“I think he did a fairly good job and he was competent, but I just think he was overkill,” Nowland said, claiming Petersen’s predecessor was effective as a part-timer.
Petersen’s salary and benefits couldn’t be verified Wednesday night, but Nowland said the expense fell on the shoulders of airport revenue.
“The airport is expected to support itself, and my immediate reaction is this may be a fortuitous situation,” Nowland said.
Petersen couldn’t be reached to respond to Nowland’s comments.
Petersen, 52, was hired in February 2001 after serving 11 years at the San Mateo County airport manager. He said he plans to say in the Nevada County and pursue career options, although he doesn’t have another job lined up.
– Staff Writer Kevin Wiser contributed to this story.
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