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Sat, Aug 26, 2023

Wisconsin Airport Faces Sudden and Unforeseen Closure

Portage, Wisconsin Faces Loss of C47 Municipal Airport

The Common Council of the City of Portage, Wisconsin is set to vote on a resolution which proposes to permanently and unexpectedly close the Portage Municipal Airport (C47).

The proposal from which the resolution arose was put on the City of Portage Common Council’s agenda on Friday, 18 August 2023. The move—unforeseen and unwelcomed by many members of the Portage community—was further decried upon the announcement that the Common Council’s vote on the resolution would be held less than one-week after the proposal’s introduction.

Portage Airport Commission Chair Barry Erath stated: “It was a surprise to us. We had no forewarning of this, and we’re very concerned.”

Erath, who’s been with the Portage Airport Commission for over twenty-years, asserts he’s never had graver concerns for the airport’s future.

“There’s been threats, but they’ve always been not that viable,” Erath confided. “I’m concerned that this one might be the most threatening.”

Mr. Erath further stated there’s been little to no transparency from the city regarding the reasons underlying the airport’s proposed shuttering.

Erath suspects the city seeks to redevelop the land currently occupied by the airport—after the fashion of Santa Monica’s City Council, which moved with terrible, reptilian speed to close the storied and beloved SMO airport.

“This is a potential cash cow if it were to be sold,” Erath asserted. “I think there are some budgetary concerns going on for the city.”

Erath contends the airport is a vital part of the Portage community, stating: “We have businesses that operate out of here. We have some people that do business that brings people in here. … in the community.”

Paul Phelps, who helps lead the EAA chapter that oversees the Portage Municipal Airport, said the airport contributes demonstrably to general aviation’s vitality and future.

“We have a lot of people here who’ve been around a long time and they are poised to be mentors and help these kids,” Phelps declared. “We want to do something more. We want to do something bigger.”

Among the “kids” to whom Phelps alluded is student pilot Aysia Lawrence, who set forth: “I love this place. This is what got me interested in aviation and has, like, fueled my passion for aviation.”

FMI: www.portagewi.gov

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