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Tue, Apr 03, 2012

St. Clair, MO, Mayor Sees Path To Airport Closure

Wants To Shutter St. Clair Regional Airport, Meets With FAA Officials In Washington, D.C.

St. Clair, MO, Mayor Ron Blum recently met with FAA officials in Washington, D.C., and returned saying that he has "a clear path for closure" of St. Clair Regional Airport (K39). FAA deputy associate administrator for airports Catherine Lang and others gave Blum four action items that would have to be addressed to move the closure forward.

Blum's reasons for wanting to close the airport are familiar. He says it has been losing money for several years, and the city has plans for development of a retail shopping complex on the site. Blum has been trying to close the airport since 2007.

There is some opposition to the airport closing coming mostly from pilots who actually use the field. They have filed several formal complaints, which Blum dismisses as being "hearsay," according to a report in The Missourian. "They haven't produced any actual documentation" to back up their claims, Blum said.

The steps outlined by the FAA for closing the airport include:

  • Getting a third appraisal done on the 80-acre airport property. This appraisal must be filed on proper FAA forms and follow FAA guidelines.
  • Providing a more complete explanation of what the net benefit to aviation will be by closing the local airport.
  • Providing a history of the facility itself and noting why it has been lagging financially compared to other area airports.
  • Why the city has not had the financial resources to fund the airport.

The matter is complicated by the city's acceptance of federal AIP grants as recently as 2006 for improvements to the facility.

Blum returned from Washington confident he'll be successful in closing the airport to make way for more shopping. He told the paper that the FAA wants to help the city, but they have to provide the proper documentation in the proper form to "be sure everything is on firm footing."

St. Clair is southwest of St. Louis, MO. The nearest airports to K39 are Sullivan Regional (KUUV), about 12 nm southwest of St. Clair, and Washington Regional (KFYG), about 13 nm to the north.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.stclairmo.com/stclairmo/cityhall.htm

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