You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

City could end funding for air traffic tower

Springfield leaders hoped for new military mission after base’s planes departed.


The city has spent $1.3 million to keep the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport air traffic control tower open since military planes departed here in 2011, all in hopes of landing another mission.

Now, Springfield leaders are considering scaling back funding or closing the tower altogether. Doing so, though, could result in a loss of some general aviation business.

The city also might hire a consultant to analyze airport operations, which officials believe can be profitable through possible future revenue from the unmanned aerial systems industry.

The city discussed the future of the airport at Tuesday night’s budget meetings.

In August, the city agreed to spend $275,000 to operate the air traffic control tower at Springfield-Beckley until next October.

However, the airport fund subsidy could be reduced from $400,000 last year to $175,000 in 2014, according to the city’s preliminary budget. Future services at the tower would not be paid out of the general fund, but leaders are looking for other ways to pay for the services, Finance Director Mark Beckdahl said.

The consultant will analyze the effects of possible reductions at the tower and the entire airport. They’re still in the process of hiring the consultant, and they hope to spend approximately $10,000.

City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said the city will consider seeking state assistance or operating the tower different hours, among others.

The city also provides fire services and airfield and grounds maintenance on the 1,800-acre complex. If it ceased air traffic control and fire operations at the airport, it could lose its Part 139 certificate, which allows nine- to 30-passenger aircraft to use the airport.

“When you start eliminating these amenities like air traffic control or navigational aids, you start potentially to restrict the types of aircraft you can host at the airport,” said Tom Franzen, assistant city manager and director of economic development.

The $1.3 million spent on the tower since Air National Guard flights ended in 2011 includes approximately $758,000 in city money and $545,000 in grant money.

The city has five certificates of authorization, or COAs, with the Federal Aviation Administration to fly unmanned aerial systems, or UAS, at the airport, including Sinclair Community College and the Army National Guard.

Springfield is part of the Ohio/Indiana proposal to be one of six sites nationally selected to test UAS in local airspace. Franzen said the FAA-UAS test site selection is still ongoing, but “all indications” are that they’ll meet their timeline of choosing the sites by the end of the year.

Franzen believes revenue from the designation could offset the costs to help keep the air traffic control tower open. The designation may not pay off the tower entirely in the first year, Franzen said. However, it could by the second or third year, if it meets the projections by the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex, which was recently located at the Nextedge Applied Research and Technology Park in Springfield.

The UAS market is predicted to generate more than $82.1 billion in the first decade after they’ve been cleared for takeoff by the FAA.

The revenue generated by the UAS designation, Franzen said, would equal approximately one-third of the cost of the control tower for the first year, but the second-year projections are “more robust.”

However, it’s tough to estimate the market for an industry “that’s never existed before,” he said.

The city believed an operating tower would be critical in securing a training mission for the 445th Airlift Wing Air Force Reserve based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The 445th Airlift flies C-17 cargo transport planes, and the unit currently trains for assault landings at out-of-state sites.

Local officials believe the training could be performed in Springfield to reduce costs and increase efficiency. The existing Springfield runways could be used temporarily until a new strip is built at a cost of $10 million to $15 million.

However, funding for military projects in recent years has slowed the process considerably, Franzen said.

“We don’t feel as confident, if we ever felt confident, about the assault strip being a near-term opportunity for us,” Franzen said. “We know it’s going to take time.”

Franzen said there’s no sense in keeping the tower open for that mission when they know they could activate it in the future.

The city is also requesting state capital funds for the construction of a $2.3 million hangar project at the airport, which includes box hangars for general aviation, T-Hangars and a larger hangar for both UAS and general aviation. If the funds are awarded, the city could also generate revenue through rentals of the hangars.

Earlier this week, the state Controlling Board approved $10 million to develop research and technology facilities in the defense sector. Commissioner Dan Martin mentioned seeking funding from that to help keep the tower operational.

“We’re actively engaged with the (Dayton Development Coalition) and our legislators and others on funding the UAS test center, as well as our initiatives,” Franzen said.

In other news:

• Mike Calabrese, the director of Opportunities for Individual Change of Clark County, was appointed to the National Trail Parks and Recreation District Board. The appointment fills one of the vacancies created by the departure of board members Terry Groeber and Susie Samuels.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Clerk can’t read robber’s note because of messy handwriting, police say 
Clerk can’t read robber’s note because of messy handwriting, police say 

A robbery suspect’s handwriting was so undecipherable that a store clerk handed the demand note back to the man Thursday and asked him to read it, police said. Dion Taylor walked into a Family Dollar around 7:30 p.m. and handed the clerk the note, according to WKBN. The clerk handed it back to Taylor when he could not understand what was...
Bill Clinton tweets about ‘bugged’ Clinton Center, pokes fun at Trump
Bill Clinton tweets about ‘bugged’ Clinton Center, pokes fun at Trump

  Former President Bill Clinton took a jab at President Donald Trump on Sunday with a Twitter photo of himself next to a giant bug sculpture outside the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. “BREAKING: We just learned that the @ClintonCenter has been bugged,” Clinton tweeted with the photo. Clinton...
Premier, UnitedHealthcare negotiations continue over health plans
Premier, UnitedHealthcare negotiations continue over health plans

Contract talks between the region’s largest health system and insurer United Health Care remain at an impasse as a deadline approaches that could jeopardize the health plans of up to 70,000 local residents. Premier Health and UnitedHealthcare, one of the largest group health insurers in the area, have been at an impasse in talks to renew their...
Clark County Common Pleas Court cases
Clark County Common Pleas Court cases

COMMON PLEAS COURT NEW SUITS 17-DS-0351 - Shamir Cooper, Fairborn, and James Cooper, 1211 S. Wittenberg Ave., petition for dissolution of marriage. 17-DS-0353 - Sean T. Brooks, South Vienna, and Jennifer L. Brooks, South Vienna, petition for dissolution of marriage. 17-DS-0354 - Amy J. May, 2690 Cleve Ave., and William D. May, 2440 Red Coach Dr., petition...
Man indicted on felony charge after violent argument over biscuits
Man indicted on felony charge after violent argument over biscuits

An Alabama man has been indicted on a felony domestic violence charge for a September 2016 argument over biscuits that turned violent. Billy George Phillips II, 33, of Hartselle, was arrested Thursday on a charge of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reported. In Alabama, that charge is...
More Stories