An amendment attached to the latest U.S. Transportation Bill allows for closure of the St. Clair Regional Airport, but the future of the amendment is unknown after no action was taken on it before Congress broke for its summer recess.
Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill cosponsored Amendment 1801, “to release the city of St. Clair, Mo., from all restrictions, conditions and limitations on the use, encumbrance, conveyance and closure of the St. Clair Regional Airport.”
Blunt Press Secretary Genny Carter provided The Missourian some background information on the amendment which stated it was offered, but never made pending and never was voted on before the THUD (Transportation, Housing and Urban Development) bill had cloture filed.
“The cloture vote failed and consideration of the bill itself was stopped,” information from Blunt's office stated. “So the amendment is filed, but no action was taken on it.”
“Cloture” is a motion or process in parliamentary procedure aimed at bringing debate to a quick end.
Carter had no other details or information on the amendment.
St. Clair has been trying to close the airport located on about 80 acres on the north side of the city for several years and has been seeking permission from the Federal Aviation Administration because federal grants were obtained for improvements to the facility as late as 2006.
“Our first priority is this community and its citizens,” Mayor Ron Blum said when asked about the amendment. “We appreciate any help given to us to improve our quality of life here and help our community prosper.”
Blum said he did not want to provide further comment at this time.
The amendment states that the United States will act through the administrator of the FAA to allow closure “as described in the most recent airport layout plan approved by the FAA.” It also states conditions to allow closure.
City officials have been going back and forth with FAA and Missouri Department of Transportation officials on the closure process.
The latest word from the FAA is that its decision on closure has been delayed until September, City Attorney Kurt Voss said. During last week’s board of aldermen meeting, Voss said the FAA is continuing to evaluate the city’s request and has given itself an extension to next month.
“An extension of time is necessary and appropriate for a fair and complete determination in this case,” FAA Director of Airport Compliance and Management Analysis Randall S. Fiertz Date said in a letter sent to parties involved.
The FAA currently is dealing with a complaint filed against the city of St. Clair by tenant Jim DeVries of Pacific. Neither DeVries nor any of the handful of tenants who rent hangar space at the airport live in St. Clair.
DeVries’ complaint, which specifically is referred to as a “14 C.F.R. Part 16,” was sent to Federal Aviation Administration personnel in May 2012. It alleges “noncompliance by the city of St. Clair Regional Airport, the sponsor of the airport, of its obligations under federal law applicable to the operation of an airport.”
The complaint was signed by DeVries. Other parties listed were Tim Dempsey of Pacific, Dave Hardin of Crestwood, Grady Bowers of Crestwood, Chris Kempen of Pacific, Gilbert Hoffman of rural St. Clair, Grenville Sutcliffe of Pacific, George Brock of Union and Rosemary and Jerome Ficken of Cedar Hill.
DeVries, who has filed other complaints with the FAA against the city, has been the most vocal opponent to the city’s attempts to close the facility.
Before breaking for summer recess, neither the Senate nor the House could assemble sufficient support to even bring the THUD appropriations bill to a final vote. In the Senate, supporters failed to gain 60 votes to bring debate on the bill to a close. In the House leadership pulled the bill from the floor.
Some experts said the failure of the THUD bill made it all but certain Congress won’t see the transportation funding bill again until it is rolled into a larger continuing resolution at the start of the new federal fiscal year on Oct. 1.