Kent State holds meeting to determine university airport’s future

Chelsea Graff

Kent State held a final meeting Tuesday to present drafts for a new master plan for the Kent State University Airport and receive feedback from community members.

The meeting opened with a review of the options available for the future of the airport.

A master plan was completed in 2004 and updated in 2006 that recommended the airport be decommissioned and closed. In that scenario, Kent State would use a nearby airport for any necessary operations.

A new master plan is being created because university officials and airport staff believe the airport should not be closed. In addition, officials from the Federal Aviation Administration felt closing the airport would conflict with earlier assurances that the airport would remain open and in public use, according to a website about the master plan.

The FAA requires an airport master plan to receive federal funding for the maintenance and improvement of the airport facilities. According to a website about the master plan, the last significant improvements made at the airport were 10 years ago, and many of the facilities are more than 80 years old or were intended to be temporary structures.

In addition, the FAA changed the layout requirements for runways, taxiways, aprons and other airport facilities in Oct. 2012, so the Kent State airport has to make changes to be in compliance with these new guidelines.

There were four scenarios presented at the meeting. The option that was selected was titled Tow Gown Alternative 2-A, and it will be submitted to the FAA for review.

Changes will include improving facilities such as runways to meet the FAA’s new design guidelines and potentially building a new terminal or academic building.

Aileen Maguire Meyer, planning department manager of C&S Companies said picnic tables or a dog area might be added for people in the community.

During the community feedback session, people expressed mixed feelings about the airport.

Some people said they wanted the airport to be moved completely because the noise level is too high.

“Lets get out and move the airport to a new and good location,” said Roy Howarter, a community member.

Alan Narvy, another community member, said the airport is focusing too much on Kent State students instead of the residents surrounding the airport.

Though many present were not in favor of airport improvements, some community members spoke positively about the master plan.

“I love Kent State University Airport,” community member Paul Conner said. “I am an aircraft owner. I am able to operate my business there. If they get it safer, then that’s the right way to go.”

Some said they enjoyed watching the planes everyday and supported the education program that was there.

Kent State University is one of the few universities in the nation that own and maintain its own airport.

Meyer said the funding for this project will come from funds like grants and university funding, not from the community.

The plan would happen over a 20-year timeline if it gets passed by the FAA.

The airport, which Kent State has owned since 1942, is the home of the Aeronautics and Flight Training Programs.

Emily Mills contributed reporting.

Contact Chelsea Graff at [email protected].