City Administrator Rick Childers has volleyed the ball back into the Federal Aviation Administration’s court in regards to the St. Clair Regional Airport and the city’s request to close it.
Childers sent correspondence to Missouri Department of Transportation Administrator of Aviation Amy Ludwig at the end of last month in response to the latest round of requests from MoDOT and the FAA regarding airport compliance.
He also asked her to forward any of the information “as appropriate” to the FAA
“We’re pleased to have been able to comply with what are hopefully the final requirements toward closing the airport, and very much appreciate the assistance we’ve received in this process from MoDOT Aviation,” Childers told The Missourian.
In late December, both MoDOT and the FAA sent the city information regarding various operations and maintenance items with recommendation for corrections. The FAA said in its correspondence that “the agency will not consider closing St. Clair Regional Airport ... until the city corrects deficiencies at the airport.”
“Following is the response of the city to these aggregate correspondences,” Childers told Ludwig in his March 26 letter.
Childers then mentions each compliance item noted by MoDOT and the FAA and that every one of them has been addressed and/or repaired. The list includes several maintenance items as well as creating a separate airport bank account and the city paying the airport rent for a lift station on the property.
Childers also said the tenant hangar rental rate dispute between the pilots and the city has been resolved.
“The city of St. Clair once again requests release from all past grant obligations ... and requests closure of St. Clair Regional Airport and authorization to sell the lands,” Childers wrote to Ludwig at the end of his letter. “As always, thanks for all of your assistance.”
The administration needs permission to close the facility located on the north side of town between Interstate 44 and Highway 47 because the city obtained federal grant monies, as late as 2006, to make repairs at the airport.
In late December, the FAA’s letter to the city stated the “corrective action” includes making adequate repairs at the facility, addressing operational and financial issues and resolving complaints regarding the increase in tenant rental fees. The conclusion of the letter stated that future discussions will be limited to issues related to the city completing the steps detailed in the letter.
The FAA’s letter came in response to a letter Mayor Ron Blum sent to the federal agency last August specifically asking that it allow closure of the 80-acre facility.
The St. Clair administration, including its board of aldermen, want to use the airport land for retail development.
MoDOT Not Opposed
The city’s latest packet of information sent to MoDOT comes on the heels of the city receiving notice from the state agency that it is “not opposed” to closing the airport.
Late last month, Childers and Mayor Ron Blum received a copy of a letter from MoDOT saying it will not stand in the way of the city and its quest to close the facility.
Interim Director David B. Nichols sent the letter to the Federal Aviation Administration on March 22 stating that “because the city has made its desire clear, MoDOT will not oppose the city’s request to close the airport.”
The MoDOT letter was sent by Nichols to Jim Johnson, Airports Division manager of the FAA’s Central Region in Kansas City. After it makes the statement about not opposing the city’s request to close the airport, Nichols states, “However, all federal airport closure requirements must be met by the city.”