Restressing its intent while again tipping the first of what the city hopes will be at least a few dominoes, the St. Clair Board of Aldermen earlier this week passed a resolution supporting the closure of its regional airport.
The measure was backed unanimously by the four aldermen in a roll-call vote.
“In our ongoing discussion with the Federal Aviation Administration regarding closure, one thing we’ve undertaken is to reaffirm the support of our community,” City Administrator Rick Childers told the board and others in attendance during the April 16 meeting. “And if we’re asking other organizations to reaffirm their support with this, we should be the first ones to do it.”
After Ward 1 Aldermen Nathan Tate and Zach Fuchs as well as Ward 2 Aldermen Barb McGlenn and Travis Dierker all responded “aye” during the roll call vote after the motion and second was made to adopt the resolution, members of the audience applauded.
The one-page resolution states the city has maintained the airport since its opening in the “hope of achieving economic gain from its use and operation” and the airport “has not produced economic gain for the community during that time.”
It goes on to state that “the citizens of St. Clair have consistently encouraged and supported expanded retail growth and development” and that the completion of the city’s comprehensive plan “specifically identified retail development as the greatest and best use of lands currently occupied by the airport.”
The opening section of the document concludes by stating that “the greatest net benefit to general aviation will be achieved by gaining release of Federal Aviation Administration obligations, sale of the airport lands for commercial development and using the net proceeds of sale to provide assistance to Franklin County airports in accordance with FAA rules and procedures.
“Now therefore,” the second part of the resolution reads, “the board of aldermen of the city of St. Clair resolves as follows:
“We support all efforts directed toward permanent closure of St. Clair Regional Airport and direct the administration of the city to proceed with all due haste to secure release of FAA grant obligations, airport closure and sale of airport lands to private development interests.
“We further direct the administration of the city to provide, in cooperation with and at the direction of the FAA, all net proceeds from the sale of lands to the benefit of Franklin County airports.”
When the city’s comprehensive plan was adopted in 2009, the St. Clair R-XIII School District, St. Clair Fire and Ambulance districts and the local Chamber of Commerce were among entities that backed the city in its closure efforts. Childers said those groups are being contacted again about reaffirming their support.