Wednesday is the last day of operations at Blue Ash Airport, bringing its 91 years of aviation service in the region to an end.
The City of Cincinnati decided earlier this year to close the general aviation airport, which serves mostly small, recreational aircraft. City officials want to use its aviation resources for Lunken Airport, which is much larger and more successful than the Blue Ash facility.
The City of Blue Ash plans to turn the part of the airport that houses its three fixed-base operators into a park with a pavilion, playgrounds, bike and hike trails and other amenities.
Use of the Blue Ash Airport has declined steadily. Last year there were only 15,000 landings and take-offs there, compared to 35,000 in 1995.
Cincinnati sold 130 of the airport’s 230 acres to Blue Ash in 2007, and the City planned to reconfigure the airport on its remaining 100 acres. Cincinnati concluded recently, however, that the airport would be too big of a financial liability.
In a March 9 report to City Council, Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said operating the airport over the next 10 years would cost $190,000 a year because of $40,000 annual losses in revenue and the cost of FAA-required improvements.
A partial reconfiguration of the airport on the city’s 100 acres would cost $2.2 million, while a full reconfiguration would run $16 million.
Last month, Cincinnati City Hall restructured the $37.2 million sale so that the proceeds would be available to help fund the $110 million-plus streetcar project.
City officials previously said they hoped to use money from the airport’s sale to cover payments on about $11 million in streetcar bonds. The Federal Aviation Administration, however, raised objections, telling City Hall it would have to keep the sale revenue within its airport system, including Lunken in the East End.
By rescinding the original sale and approving a new deal with some procedural changes, the city was able to sidestep that problem.
At one time, the Blue Ash Airport site was envisioned as a regional aviation hub. It was known as Grisard Field when founded in 1921. The airfield was commercially leased and later sold to brothers Hugh and Parks Watson.
Following the 1937 flood, civic leaders began looking at the Blue Ash location as an alternative to Lunken Airport, which had been completely submerged by the rising waters of the Ohio River.
The new airport never came to fruition and in 1946 the airport was sold to the City of Cincinnati and renamed Blue Ash Airport. As land around the site continued to be developed, plans for a major airport in Blue Ash diminished and ultimately died.
The airport remained a general aviation airport that hosted air shows and housed small charter aircraft, but over the years air traffic continued to decline.
Enquirer reporter Barry Horstman contributed