City moves ahead with airport closure
The city of Blaine will begin the process of closing its airport by notifying state and federal agencies by the end of next year, according to a draft closure plan released this week.
In a regular meeting of Blaine city council Monday, city manager Gary Tomsic asked council members to approve the preliminary plan requiring the city to notify the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other federal and state agencies of the intended closure, as well as identify necessary changes to the city’s municipal code and comprehensive plan.
“I’m sure there are things that we have missed, but what we thought is that we wanted to at least identify some of the immediate steps that need to be taken,” Tomsic said.
In the meantime, he said the city has already sent registered letters to the FAA, as well as state and county agencies notifying them of the city’s intent.
The next steps are to notify the leasees and start the process of negotiating lease terminations or amendments, and getting appraisals of property values.
Part of that will include measures to enhance the value and marketability of the 42 acres of insutrially-zoned airport land, and the plan suggests hiring an engineering firm to development a design for the extension of Boblett Street, which will cost the city around $300,000, Tomsic said.
The city will also begin negotiating with those agencies about paying back federal and state issued grants, the conditions of which require repayment with interest if the airport ceases to operate.
Those grants could total as much as $556,000, according to a report completed by city attorney Jon Sitkin in September, 2006. When combined with possible litigation as a result of lease terminations, the report found that closing the airport could cost somewhere between $1 million and $4 million.
The city would also be forced to absorb the $700,000 in debt which has to be paid to the Carruther’s family for the acquisition of a piece of their property which borders the airport, amount that would have been covered by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration if the city’s airport expansion plan would have been approved.