State analyzing public airports

Springfield-Beckley, Urbana’s Grimes part of study involving funding.

In the 1960s, Ohio Gov. James Rhodes mandated that each of the state’s 88 counties have a general aviation airport.

Three decades after Rhodes left office for the final time, Ohio has 97 publicly owned airports for general aviation — each claiming to be critical to local economic development — but only so much money to go around.

The state is in the process of collecting information on each airport in order to help decide how best to spend the limited amount of money for general aviation.

As part of the Ohio Airports Focus Study, the Ohio Department of Transportation is holding public meetings throughout the state in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration. A meeting on Tuesday in Springfield will gather local input.

The meeting will run from 2 to 4 p.m. at Avetec, located along U.S. 40 on Springfield’s east side.

While aviation-related sales in Ohio generate more than $20 million annually in state sales tax, according to ODOT, that money goes to the state’s general fund.

Through a competitive grant program, ODOT distributed only about $725,000 in 2012 to the state’s general aviation airports, the likes of which include Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport and Grimes Field in Urbana, both of which are owned by their respective city governments.

Even though the FAA last year spent about $26 million on general aviation airports in Ohio, the combined funding only addressed a fraction of requests.

“We’re in a time of limited resources for most things,” ODOT spokesman Steve Faulkner said Wednesday.

The state’s seven airports with commercial airline service aren’t included in the study, which is expected to issue its findings in the spring.

ODOT has stated it won’t be recommending airport closures, but Tom Franzen, assistant city manager for the city of Springfield, said he wouldn’t be surprised if hard choices need to be made.

“This is to gauge how active airports are,” said Franzen, who also serves as the city’s director of economic development.

“Are (97) airports necessary?” he said.

The study will assess the economic impact of each publicly owned airport and develop a framework for prioritizing improvement projects.

“Springfield-Beckley has been an important economic development amenity for many, many years,” Franzen said.

General aviation at Springfield-Beckley has picked up, Franzen said, in the three years since the Ohio Air National Guard’s imposing F-16 fighter jets went away and left the airport with a 9,000-foot primary runway and a 5,500-foot crosswind runway.

Despite that large size, which can accommodate heavy military transports, Springfield-Beckley has a general aviation budget that some consider modest.

Statewide, just 18 percent of general aviation airports have pavement that’s considered to be in good condition, according to ODOT.

Additional hangar space is needed at Springfield-Beckley in particular to accommodate a waiting list for space, Franzen said, but funding remains an issue.

Grimes Field in Urbana has a waiting list as well, said Carol Hall, airport manager.

“There’s just limited funds to do anything,” she said.

Used recently by a Learjet on area business, Grimes’ runway has cracks and needs to be resurfaced — repair work that looks to begin this month after a year delay — and the terminal is in need of remodeling, Hall said.

“You have to beg, borrow and steal to keep things in normal condition,” she said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Rain showers start the week, possible snow flurries Tuesday 
Rain showers start the week, possible snow flurries Tuesday 

A few showers expected today More rain likely Monday Colder with the chance for snow Tuesday TODAY: A few showers are expected throughout the day today. While it won’t be a wash-out, you’ll want to make sure you have an umbrella handy if you have plans to be out. Temperatures will be on the mild side in the mid to upper 40s. ...
Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants
Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

A new ad released by President Donald Trump's campaign is claiming that Democrats are “complicit” in killings by undocumented immigrants. The ad was released after Senate Democrats opposed a short-term spending bill to keep the government from shutting down. “President Trump is right — build the wall, deport criminals...
Michael Phelps reveals he considered suicide after 2012 Olympics
Michael Phelps reveals he considered suicide after 2012 Olympics

Swimmer Michael Phelps has revealed that after the 2012 Olympics, he considered suicide. “Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression,” he told David Axelrod at the fourth annual conference of the Kennedy Forum, an organization for mental health advocacy, according to CNN. Phelps revealed that...
Dogs found in perfect condition in home where 13 siblings held captive
Dogs found in perfect condition in home where 13 siblings held captive

A pair of well-kept dogs were taken from the Perris, California, house where 13 children were found shackled and severely malnourished last week. David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, are facing a minimum of 94 years for charges including child neglect and torture after police said their children, ranging from ages 2 to 29, were discovered in their...
COMMENTARY: You can’t go wrong with Ben Franklin’s wisdom

When I used to teach American literature as part of our sophomore curriculum, I always looked forward to teaching the Ben Franklin excerpts from “Poor Richard’s Almanac.” Why? First of all, these proverbs and aphorisms reflect a way of thinking that gives great insight into the American psyche and identity of a certain age &mdash...
More Stories