Tensions run high over airport

Each side said they don't want to be enemies, but they certainly didn't act that way at times. Tensions were running high at Tuesday's county commissioners' meeting as advocates for the Huron County Airport dominated the public comments for about 45 minutes.
Cary Ashby
Feb 16, 2011

 

Each side said they don't want to be enemies, but they certainly didn't act that way at times.

Tensions were running high at Tuesday's county commissioners' meeting as advocates for the Huron County Airport dominated the public comments for about 45 minutes.

Daniel LeClair, the president of the Friends of Huron County Airport, said he and Huron County Commissioner Larry Silcox had a "spirited discussion" about the fate of the airport during a private meeting Monday. LeClair told the commissioners Tuesday he wanted their assurance they would sign an application for $600,000 grant that would generate $30,000 for the airport.

LeClair, who said his non-profit organization represents more than 70 people with and without airport affiliations as well as farmers and business employees, said many businessmen told him they would jump at the opportunity that requires 5 percent but gets 95 cents on every dollar.

The money from an entitlement fund comes from fuel sales tax, airway bills and ticket taxes.

Commissioner Gary Bauer asked LeClair if he were asking the board to spend $22,000 to support the Friends of Huron County Airport. LeClair responded by saying his request was the equivalent of "investing in the community."

Bauer said the pending county budget is "extremely tight" and that the $22,000 isn't included now. If it were, he said it would mean taking money away from other county entities.

The commissioner also told LeClair he wanted to know how the airport would use the grant money. While LeClair didn't answer directly, he said: "I believe there is a master plan."

"I'll take that answer as you (either) don't know or don't care to tell me," said Bauer, who also said the airport needs to be specific with their plans.

Huron County Airport Authority Board President Dennis Sokol, in response to Bauer, said there is a specific list of projects. The airport first needs to address "immediate needs," Sokol said, which would include "safety risks," such as trees that obstruct pilots from landing at night and seal-coating the pavement.

Silcox, the commission president, said he was upset because it sounded as if LeClair was threatening the commissioners if there were no assurances about the grant. Silcox also mentioned that the tone of LeClair's presentation Tuesday wasn't the same as their private meeting Monday.

"This is not working together," Silcox said.

LeClair often spoke over the commissioners as they presented questions or responses. At the end of the lengthy, heated discussion, which also involved Sokol, LeClair accused the commissioners of treating him like their son and of dispensing "false information" and half-truths.

The airport was created in 1966.

Silcox, who started working for the county in the early 1970s, said there have been many times that airport officials have come to the county requesting matching funds to be self-sufficient and become the economic development tool it was promised to be. However, he said he hadn't seen either of those things happen in about 40 years.

In the past, Silcox said the county has granted matching funds to the airport, but the present situation has changed. Ultimately, he said he needs to look at what's in the best interest of the county before making any decisions.

"That's where my ultimate decision must be," Silcox said. "I want to have all the information I can have as we move forward."

Newly-elected Commissioner Joe Hintz addressed Sokol and LeClair after his fellow commissioners spoke.

"There's a tone on the airport that really bothers me; it's a negative tone," Hintz told them.

Hintz said he's heard it's easier to lead a horse with a carrot rather than a buggy whip. When it comes to the airport's perspective, he said he's heard too much of the buggy whip approach -- both when Hintz was studying the situation as an election candidate and now as a commissioner.

"I'll take a public stand. I'm in favor of the drag strip," Hintz said, referring to Summit Motorsports Park. "I'm in favor of closing down the airport."

Hintz said he's not in favor of losing Summit to another location because it would be "disastrous to the county." He also stressed to Sokol and LeClair "I'm not at war with you guys" and like Silcox, he needs to make decisions based on what's best for Huron County.

Sokol, while saying it's important to argue one's position as logically as possible, said if the county closes the airport, "it will go into federal court."

Comments

retired

"Tensions were running high." "Each side said they don't want to be enemies." "This is not working together." "...he was upset because it sounded threatening..." This is just the beginning foks. The days of leadership, respect, and working together from the board of commissioners is over. Too bad, but then again I guess a change was needed? Wasn't it?

propman

Here it is again.
The funds from the FAA are from TAXES on the sale of AVIATION fuel. It doesn't come from your pockets unless you use the services provided from aviation.
An airport such as Huron county is like the road or bridge that most people never realize how much effect it produces in a losal economy. What happens to a bussness when a road or bridge is clossed that provides access to the bussness?
That bussness and the others served will lose costomers and income. After that the local comunity loses revenue from the taxes on the products produced or sold, they lose the income taxe on the emploies how work less or are out of work and with the loses building up it is more difficult for the local goverment to provide the needed services.
The Norwalk area is seeing the effects of losing major employers already and to be so short sighted as to close an asset(and the talk is to PERMINENTLY close the airport) would be like not changing the oil in your car because you didn't want to spend the money for the oil. In a short while the engine will fail and then the expense of correcting the mistake will be HUGE.
THE AIRPORT IS INFRASTRUCTURE AS NEEDED AS THE ROADS AND BRIDGES!
Just because you do not use it yourselves does not mean you do not gain large benefits from it.How many of the roads do any of you actually us in the county through the years? Would closing all the roads YOU do not use yourself be a benefit to you or will you suffer for it?
Not seeing the forest for the trees is a saying that has been used here and there are many comments coming on this subject that show the commenter to be unable to see beyond their own nose. Do not forget that there is a whole world beyond the forest.

flowerchild65

Finally there are people on here who understand that the airport IS an asset. You just can't sell something because 'you' may not benefit directly from it. The commissioners have a legal obligation to maintain the runway and to keep the airport open until 2027. As for Summit needing to use the airport for just a couple days during the year, I’m sure most pilots would not be against it. But think about this, most cars that pull out of the airport driveway (after a Summit event) end up turning right (west on Rt 20), not really helping with the problem. They may be getting out of the parking lot quicker, but they are still jamming up traffic at the corner of Rt 20 and Rt 601.

rogerthat

So if these benefits are so huge and obvious, why hasn't anyone listed them for us? It's clearly evident who uses the roads and bridges but who uses the airport? What, exactly is the economic impact to Huron County? Who are the major employers that use it?

AlterEgo

The total amount of money that comes from the commisioners for the airport are about $5000 dollars a year. That is how much your "big waste of money" costs

AlterEgo

This is a no-brainer.....let the bader's use it for a few days and everyone willbe happy.

swiss family

since this is such a controversial topic, I think it might be time to actually see what the discussion is about ion detail...I don't think that most citizens would have any objection for the drag strip to use the airport for a limited amount of days,as long as the traffic is routed in such a way that it does not do any harm to the airport property.. maybe it would be easier to get a clear view of the facts if the newspaper would include a map, showing from a topical standpoint, the traffic would be routed to, along with the nearby crossroads..... someone had some ideas about making some routes out there being temporarily one way.. (sorry I don't remember who 's idea that was) but that might be a possibility as well... I just think, that it would be easier to solve, if all of the personalities were somehow removed, and we dealt with facts, and to get the facts a mapping of the proposed usage might help alot..

swiss family

since this is such a controversial topic, I think it might be time to actually see what the discussion is about ion detail...I don't think that most citizens would have any objection for the drag strip to use the airport for a limited amount of days,as long as the traffic is routed in such a way that it does not do any harm to the airport property.. maybe it would be easier to get a clear view of the facts if the newspaper would include a map, showing from a topical standpoint, the traffic would be routed to, along with the nearby crossroads..... someone had some ideas about making some routes out there being temporarily one way.. (sorry I don't remember who 's idea that was) but that might be a possibility as well... I just think, that it would be easier to solve, if all of the personalities were somehow removed, and we dealt with facts, and to get the facts a mapping of the proposed usage might help alot..

Tim Ensign

Why don't we go back oh lets say 10 yrs and see what the airport has brought to the county versus the track , my guess it will be a fairly dismal number, The racetrack does not just want to use the airport for a few selected events , they are looking toward the future and that future includes a need for more property. If the county "gave" the property to the track for free and had them pay back the grant monies already received it would still be more of a significant economic impact for the county than the airport has ever had. There have been valliant efforts made out there but all of them have failed, Titan Aerospace was a disaster , the military museum by Dick Rench was shot down, I am sure there have been many more. To dump another 20 or 22 thousand in this is sensless. I hope the Commisioners hold firm ground and take this to Federal Court if need be. Also, I have been a member of this community for 43 yrs, why people hide behind screen names baffles me ! if you have the @#lls to say it than you should let them know who you are !!

AlterEgo

The sales tax alone on the aviation gasoline sold at the airport more than makes up or the $5000 dollars from the general fund that the comissioners give to the airport every year. I have posted this many times, but no one listens. The racetrack does not to buy the airport property. And the airport cannot be easily closed or sold, that is just a fact regardless of what the ill-informed people in this community believe, and the commissioners know this.

The only thing that is on the table from the racetrack is to use the property for egress on 6 specific nights of the summer....that is all. Everyone is making this a bigger issue that it really is. This would have been a non-issue, had certain people not tried to shake down the Bader family for more money last year.

The Bader's have a fine establishment out there that does contribute to the economy for a lot of people around the area in many many ways, and their facility is top notch. They make very smart decisions, and it has paid off very well for them. The projected cost to buy this peice of property so they can move cars faster 6 nights a year is not a wise decision for them, buy paying a fee to use it for those night is a wise decision.

You may personal not use the airport but it is there for your use as well as anybody else that wants to use it, just as any other public property, or infrastructure component is available for your use.

PS. I don't hide behind this screen name, this is a nick name that I have used for many years and my friends are welll aware of it. I do choose not to publish my name since often times tone and inflection are hard to convey in the written word so I would rather not have my personal and business life affected when comments posted on here are misconstrued or I fail to properly articulate my point.

matt882

The Friends of Huron County Airport see a need for $30,000 for the airport. There are 70 of them. If each of them contribute $428.57, they would have the $30,000. If the non profit is set up as a 501(c)3 their contributions would be tax deductible. Maybe they need to also start planning some fundraisers for future grant opportunities as well.

flowerchild65

The airport is a public airport, just like the street you live on. If your road was full of potholes that made it nearly impossible to drive down and get into your driveway or your neighbors driveway, would the entire neighborhood 'contribute' to fix it? Or would you expect the city/county to pay for it?

arnmcrmn

Willards roads are like driving in Hazard County in the ole General Lee and our city council or city manager are not doing a dang thing about it. Time have changed. Some things are not cost effective. Comparing public entities like roads vs a rarely used airport is hardly a good comparison. Its apples to oranges.

matt882

I haven't seen a group called Friends of the Roads. I compare the airport more to a library than I do the roads. There are groups called Friends of the Library because there are people that are passionate about keeping the libraries open. Not everyone uses the library, but everyone uses the roads.

flowerchild65

I don't drive on every road in the county (I'm sure you don't either), but I expect all of them to be properly maintained.

AlterEgo

Is there an economic impact of the library? Would you be willling to close the library and reloacte it so Hill's can expand?

methodman

Is there an economic impact of the library? Are you serious? Maybe people being able to read and educate themselves has some sort of economic impact. How can the library be compared to an airport? No logical thinking on your part. The airport doesn't have to be a money making machine but should be self sufficient. What is the 600,000 being used for anyway? Is this something that the airport is in dire need of considering the current economic situation. The state is cutting entitlements promised to people but can pass out grants like this. These comimissioners need to ax this airport ASAP and get down to business. The sheriff needs cruisers, there are definitely better places to spend any money the county has than waste another dollar on that airplane parking lot out there. As for all you airplane hobbyists on here toting about businessmen flying in and such, put up or shut up. Lets see some numbers such as flights in and out with a delivery and transporting record so you might be able to get the public informed and increase your support.

Jonathan Christman

I have written my letter to the FAA in support of closing the airport for the days requested to allow for Summit Motorsports Park to use the property for traffic control. I am a proud member of the Norwalk Lions Club and a large portion of our operating budget comes from fundraising we do at the track. I have worked at the track on some of those big nights and traffic is a mess. I have also worked on the previous occasions when the runway was used to exit and I saw how much better traffic flowed. I also have a private pilot's license and have occasionally flown into at this airport, but I do not own a plane hangered there. I do not feel it is a big sacrifice for pilots or users of the airport to change plans and avoid flying on those specific days, in fact, I feel the additional revenue that the track has offered and paid for this priviledge in prevous years as well as the good will between the airport and the track are well worth the few days of inconvienence.

iamrevolutionary

All I see the businesses using the HCA for, is flying OUT of the COUNTRY!!

AlterEgo

Your one sided incomplete views are well apparent in all of your posts. You only see what you want to see.

kURT

Verballknit UR right. Why should we the many, pay for the few. The dragstip benifits much more of Huron County's populace than the airport.

iamrevolutionary

The gov't. has been known to do MANY things that are supposedly "not allowed!" Just look at what Columbus is trying to do to the unions! So, I would NOT count on any "regulations" or "laws" to stand in the way of PROGRESS! JMO!

methodman

Plain and simple COMMISSIONERS we are broke and cannot afford to fund this. DO THE JOB OR GET OUT.

saranhkcs

How do I book an airport escort to help someone through the airport? Since there no escort option when you book a flight online.does the flight and escort need to be booked all together?

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