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"Bakersfield, Calif., Council Votes for Bid to Close Airport, Sell Land"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2005 04:11:31 -0500
Thursday, December 1, 2005
Bakersfield, Calif., Council Votes for Bid to Close Airport, Sell Land
By James Burger
The Bakersfield Californian
Bakersfield City Council members voted Wednesday night to make a formal
effort to close Bakersfield Municipal Airport and sell the land to private
Councilwoman Irma Carson sees the airport on South Union Avenue as a blight
on the community that needs to be removed and replaced with new homes, shops
The only barrier in the way of her dream is the Federal Aviation
Administration, which has granted the city millions of dollars over the last
20 years to purchase and operate the airport.
Officials with the FAA have said they are not in the habit of closing
airports. Bakersfield can't close the airport unless the FAA approves.
That fact isn't stopping Carson.
"The issue here is how we rebirth the area. We have not been able to make an
improvement in that area," Carson said. "I pray the FAA will recognize the
needs of the residents in the area."
But pilots and business owners at the airport take issue with Carson's view
of the spot as blighted.
Flight schools, charter businesses and aeronautic manufacturers call
Bakersfield Municipal their home. Planes fly in and out of the spot
It is the city, pilots say, that has failed to invest in the property and
make it the economic engine it could become.
John Harmon, who sells kit airplanes from a warehouse at Bakersfield
Municipal, is now building a restaurant at the airport too.
He said the FAA will never approve the closure request and it is "comical"
to watch the city try to eliminate the airport.
He said he likes the clause in the closure request asking the FAA to close
Bakersfield Municipal -- but only if it can sell the land for enough money
to pay off the price of closure.
That cost, city estimates show, could be $16 million or more.
Councilmen Harold Hanson and Mike Maggard said it is important to make sure
the city could stop the airport closure if a land developer wasn't willing
to pay enough for the land to cover the closure cost.
Hanson estimated the land will have to sell for $90,000 an acre to seal that
Maggard said the city shouldn't have to spend money to close the airport.
Carson supporters said the city needs to make every effort to close the
"The airpark is stagnating the area," said Art Powell. "Why is this area
being neglected? It's time for progress for the southeast."
City Public Works Director Raul Rojas said the request to the FAA will go
out in the next several weeks, as soon as an appraisal of the property is
It is uncertain, he said, how long it will take for the FAA to respond.
Maggard said nobody should underestimate Carson's ability to achieve a goal.
"She is a very persuasive person. I'm sure she will lobby to get this done,"
"I've already started," Carson said.
Post your opinion on this story in the CAA General Aviation Forum
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