St. Clair Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance that redirects airport funding during Monday’s meeting.

In an interview after the meeting, City Administrator Travis Dierker said Missouri airports have the option to apply for funds through the Missouri Department of Transportation that can be used for upgrades and projects.

The funds originally come from the Federal Aviation Administration and airports have to match a certain amount. Although the funds are not guaranteed, Dierker said this ordinance allows for the monies to go toward other airports in the state, rather than going back to the FAA.

This particular ordinance has been passed annually since the city has started the closure process for the St. Clair Regional Airport, he said.

“Basically (we’re) saying we’re not interested in doing any major upgrades at the airport, so we’re not interested in taking any more federal funds,” Dierker said.

The board voted 4-0 in favor for the transfer of entitlements with the Missouri Department of Transportation Aviation Section.

Background

The St. Clair Regional Airport will tentatively close Nov. 1.

Letters have been sent out notifying the six tenants of the closure. Their leases are set to end Oct. 29.

A closing document will be presented to the board and Mayor Ron Blum for review at the next city meeting. The document will be signed by Blum and MoDOT officials on Nov. 1 in St. Louis.

A week before the signing, Dierker said a notam of airmen will be given out stating that no planes will be allowed in or out.

The airport closing has been in the works since 2006, when city officials started pushing for legislation that would allow them to close the airport.

Sen. Claire McCaskill sponsored SB 2759, which she introduced to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on July 31, 2014 during the 113th session of Congress.

It passed out of that committee without comment and was forwarded to the full Senate that September. Sen. Roy Blunt, cosponsored the bill.

The Senate approved the legislation in early December of 2014, and the House of Representatives approved it on Dec. 9. In both chambers, the measure passed on a voice vote. U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer worked the bill through the House.

Online information about the bill states it was passed by both chambers in identical form.

SB 2759 states that it is “a bill to release the city of St. Clair from all restrictions, conditions and limitations on the use, encumbrance, conveyance and closure of the St. Clair Regional Airport.”

Additional language in the bill provides details regarding the closure process and the transfer of assets, revenues and equipment as well as the monetary value of the property and the worth of the unamortized federal grants turned over to MoDOT and the FAA.

The legislation is a stand-alone bill, meaning there is nothing else attached to it. Former President Barack Obama signed the bill in Dec. 12, 2014.

The closure has been a priority of Mayor Ron Blum’s administration since he first took office in 2007.

His goal is to have the land developed for retail use, but there also could be some industry developed on the 135 acres of property, all located within city limits.

The land where the airport sits, between Interstate 44 and Highway 47 on the north side of the city, is included in a tax increment financing district that was approved by the board of aldermen in 2009.

A TIF is a public financing method for municipalities using future gains in taxes to finance current improvements which theoretically will create the conditions for those future gains. It allows for redevelopment and community improvement projects.

In May, an environmental assessment necessary to close the airport was completed. A “finding of no significant impact” notice for the airport’s environmental assessment can be found at the St. Clair Scenic Regional Library and through the Federal Aviation Administration.

As part of the closing process, the land must meet the requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

One of the requirements included an environmental assessment that would check the ground for wetlands, artifacts, endangered species, hazardous waste and other issues that could impact the ground.

In 2015, the city hired a company to perform an environmental assessment, which was submitted and approved in May.