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Airport Gift That Keeps Giving To City
August 13, 2010
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  • The two-week closure to most air traffic of Columbus

    Municipal Airport that began Monday ironically highlights the importance of this

    facility to the community and the bargain the city and its taxpayers have been

    enjoying since 1971.


    The action was taken to affect long overdue repairs to both

    runways. An overlay on them was last put down in the 1980s.


    The repairs over the next two weeks will include milling the

    top 7 inches of the pavement and overlaying it with concrete, the first time

    that more durable material has been used in the history of the 68-year-old



    There obviously will be some disruptions for major users of

    the airport that records an average of 125 takeoffs or landings each day. The

    majority of that traffic consists of commercial flights, but the companies that

    use the facility have expressed support for the maintenance project and have

    been able to make other temporary arrangements. The financing of this project

    is especially good news for the local community because all but $225,000 of the

    $4.5 million price tag will be paid with federal and state grants.


    Even better, that $225,000 that will have to be paid by the

    cityÕs Aviation Commission does not involve tax dollars. The entire amount will

    be paid by user fees raised by the commission.


    In fact, the airport has been a self-sustaining operation

    throughout its history, not only earning revenue from those who use the airport

    itself but from rental money generated by farmland on the property and areas

    that have been dedicated to industrial and business development.


    The airport and its surrounding land were turned over to the

    city on Dec. 3, 1971, when the U.S. Air Force deactivated Bakalar Air Force

    Base. The base had been used as a military training facility during World War

    II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam.


    Immediately envisioned as an area that could spur economic

    development in Columbus, the deactivated base was also seen as an opportunity

    to create a campus-like environment where residents of southern Indiana could

    pursue affordable and convenient post-secondary education.


    In that respect, it has proved to be wildly successful, not

    only housing traditional campuses such as those for IUPUC and Ivy Tech but

    creating unique training facilities for workplace development such as the

    Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence now under construction.


    The two weeks the airport will be down to most air traffic

    (it can still accommodate helicopter landings and takeoffs) will be more than

    justified by the added safety the repairs will provide.


    It should also remind the community of the deal it got

    almost 40 years ago.



    THE REPUBLIC (IN)2010-08-11false