From the 1.23.13 issue
By Daniel Mintz
An effort to re-name the county’s main airport is gaining momentum, with the Board of Supervisors pursuing it and inviting residents to submit suggestions.
Re-dubbing the Arcata-Eureka Airport was discussed by supervisors at their Jan. 15 meeting. The facility’s name references the county’s well-known cities but residents of McKinleyville, where the airport is located, make a point of describing it as “the Arcata-Eureka Airport in McKinleyville,” which supervisors duly noted.
But soon, those descriptors might be replaced by the words “Redwood” and “Humboldt,” which were highlighted as optimal name ingredients during the meeting.
The day after, the county issued a press release asking residents to submit their name change ideas and explaining that “one of the goals of this project is to make the airport easier to find for those interested in coming to Humboldt County.”
The release narrows down the re-naming options, stating that the Board of Supervisors is “requesting that the airport’s name include the terms ‘redwoods’ and ‘Humboldt.’”
The county invites suggestions via an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org and has set Feb. 26 as a deadline for submissions.
During the supervisors meeting, Public Works Director Tom Mattson said a name change would need to go through a federal process that would cost $20,000 in staff time plus new signage expenses. He said a region-oriented name is a worthy idea to consider.
“We’re Northern California’s regional airport, basically,” he told supervisors. “It makes sense, if we want to move to a regional name, to brand our area.”
If a name change is done, the airport’s code – ACV – will remain the same, Mattson added.
The idea of a name change has been advanced by the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission, which has proposed Redwood Coast Regional Airport as a name. Don Ehnebuske, the commission’s executive director, said redwoods are the area’s trademark.
“For people who are willing to bring tourist dollars to see the redwoods, how do we make sure they come to this area as opposed to some other area?” he asked. The answer: “By branding our airport as the Redwood Coast airport in some way,” said Ehnebuske.
Supervisor Rex Bohn agendized the discussion and he emphasized that it’s important to mention the county itself in a new airport name. “It’s Humboldt county’s airport,” said Bohn. “We brand ‘Humboldt Made,’ we’re proud of the name and it’s got a historical link to it.”
He added, “You can wear a sweatshirt outside of this area and put Redwood Coast on it and they’re gonna ask you how you like Santa Cruz.”
Bohn had proposed holding a contest to pick a name but that idea seemed to have fizzled sometime before the meeting. Supervisors said they’re interested in having residents suggest names, however, which led to the subsequent press release.
Supervisors unanimously approved Bohn’s motion to “explore the name change of the Arcata-Eureka Airport in McKinleyville to a more suitable name to attract tourism and commerce.”
Supervisor Virginia Bass said it’s also important to “get buy-in” from the cities of Arcata and Eureka. Mattson agreed, adding that when one adds McKinleyville to the name mix, all three locations are affected “because you’re taking their names away.”