By KELLY METZ
ELYRIA – The Lorain County Commissioners discussed the future of the Lorain County Regional Airport during yesterday’s organizational meeting and told several concerned citizens they are on a path to finding a plan.
County Administrator James Cordes said during the meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration last Thursday, they were warned they have to keep operating the airport, despite the lack of funds – he said officials with the FAA said “they don’t operate airports, they regulate airports.” He added the ultimate goal is and always has been for the airport to become self-sufficient.
Discussion as to whether the airport would close was met with some public outcry from several tenants at the airport and from concerned individuals. The airport, on Russia Road in New Russia Township, was supposed to shut down on Dec. 31, but is staying open until at least Jan. 15, due to an allocation of $50,000 from the 2010 general fund – $175,000 less than the past two years.
The money gave commissioners time to work with the FAA about possible solutions to keep the airport operating.
Tom Pfeifer, a local business owner, said the commissioners should never have even considered closing the airport, and instead they should have been working hard to find funding, rather than rely on other individuals to search for solutions.
“I admonish the county in general for wanting to end such a great asset to the community,” he said. “If we don’t maintain the assets in the community, there won’t be a draw to the city. Don’t look at us to find solutions to the problems; let’s find partners to fund these assets and let’s get some partnerships going.”
Lorain County Deputy Administrator Ron Twining said he and Cordes sent a letter to tenants searching for ideas to fund the airport, and while they received a few, the most likely choice came from Johnston Aviation, which manages the airport.
Thomas Dus, owner of SkySurance, which operates at the airport, said he is thrilled with the airport and the county should focus on the potential it has in the future. He added he would be proactive in finding an alternative to a shutdown.
“As a tenant and a supporter, I cringe when I hear comments that we don’t need the airport anymore,” he said. “Large local employers contribute to that airport, and saying we don’t need it anymore is not the kind of attitude we want to convey to those employers.”
Cordes said he has never said we don’t need the airport, it’s a matter of funding.
“We have stayed fully engaged with any potential funding in hopes of finding solutions,” he said. “And it is still an active concern, we are still treating it as such and have made no final decision.”
Source: LORAINE MORNING JOURNAL