Ninety-Year-Old Facility A Victim Of The Economy
Cincinnati officials say they are likely to close Blue Ash Airport (KSIZ) and transfer the resources to the operation of Lunken Airport (KLUK), also known as Cincinnati Municipal, another GA facility in the area. KISZ is about 9 nm northeast of KLUK, which sits in bottom land near the Ohio River. Blue Ash is on higher ground northeast of the city.
But Lunken has been more successful in recent years, and runways and facilities at Blue Ash have fallen into disrepair, in large part from lack of use. According to a report appearing in a neighborhood section of the Cincinnati Enquirer online, the city sold some 130 acres of airport property to the municipality of Blue Ash for $37.5 million in 2007, and planned to move airport operations to the 100 acres it still owned. The runways are on the property retained by the city of Cincinnati, but the rest of the infrastructure was sold to Blue Ash, which has development plans including a pavilion, hiking trails, and other amenities. The buildings must be torn down to make way for the development.
When a hoped-for $3.1 million AIP grant fell through for Blue Ash, which would have been used to build new hangars and FBO facilities on the airport, official decided they could not afford to keep the airport open.
The FAA weighed in in 2010, warning Cincinnati officials that they could not use money from the sale of the airport for any non-aviation related uses. The city had hoped to transfer money from the sale into the general fund, and say they were unaware that they could not do so when they sold the land at Blue Ash. The city and the FAA are reportedly in "discussions" about how the money can be allocated.
But it seems like Blue Ash's fate is sealed. The manager of both airports, Fred Anderton, said that even if they had received the grant, it would not have cleared all of the regulatory hurdles and red tape needed to open new facilities at Blue Ash before a late-August deadline.
Some local Blue Ash residents who support the airport have discussed it's outright purchase from the city of Cincinnati to keep it operating, but Blue Ash Mayor Mark Weber said the city does not have the money in its budget to purchase the remaining 100 acres. "It boils down to money," he said, adding that he didn't know if it would make fiscal sense to do so. While Weber says he supports the airport, he doesn't think it would be justifiable to take it over and try to make it viable again.