Tue, Apr 06, 2010
Seeks Approval From FAA To Close The Facility
A small town in Missouri has begun the process of learning how
it can close its local airport, saying the move is part of the
town's long-term development vision.
St. Clair Regional Airport (K39) is just north of the town of
St. Clair, about 50 miles west of St. Louis, MO. The city
administration has asked the Board of Aldermen to choose and work
with a panel with the purpose of closing the GA facility.
City officials say the land is "blighted," according to the
newspaper The Missourian. While it is not clear if the
land was purchased using federal funds, the paper reports that the
city received federal grants totalling $600,000 in 2003 and 2004
for the airport. That means that the airport cannot simply be
shuttered by the city, and any closure must carry an
aviation-related benefit. Retail growth, which is what the city
plans for the tract, would not necessarily be in compliance.
The city plans to hire an attorney who specializes in aviation
law to find a way to close the airport. Officials say that they
have data showing that a majority of the residents of St. Clair
favor closing K39.
FAA regulations state that any airport which is on land acquired
with federal assistance or conveyed as surplus or non-surplus
property is federally obligated in perpetuity. And, since the
airport took the grants, that requires that the airport stay open
until it is no longer usable with ordinary maintenance. If the
airport is closed arbitrarily, the city could be subject to a
$10,000 per day fine for every day it is closed.
Closing the airport would be a lengthy process, but the city
administration says it can no longer afford to "subsidize" the
field. The current mayor of St. Clair, Ron Blum, ran with closing
the airport as part of his platform. "We have funded this airport's
deficits every year. Washington and Sullivan (MO) both have updated
airfields - there is no way we can compete," Blum said during the
campaign. "The question is are we better off without it rather than
to continue to subsidize it?"
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