Airport board members plan to expand runway

Ryan Friend

Portage County airport board members and Shalerville residents engaged in S.W.O.T. strategic planning Tuesday night regarding expanding their runway to 5,000 feet and acquiring additional parcels.

John Trew, president of the airport board, explained S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Trew asked residents to visit each station containing information about the expansion and to write down their thoughts on the issue. Trew said the board would prepare a document of their feedback.

A display in the room said that the current track could support single engine small Cessnas and twin-engine aircrafts. If the runway gets expanded to 5,000 feet, it will be able to support Beech Bonanzas, Super King Air 200s and Citation IIIs.

A second display regarding Federal Aviation Administration studies said the Portage County Airport impacts the economy annually by $3,200,400. Trew said that in 2008, money generated by aviation went down, but recent signs show that it is coming back.

Shalersville resident feedback, written in each of the S.W.O.T. categories, indicated Strengths include real estate and school taxes, and Opportunities include tax revenue increase for Portage County and increase in employment. Threats include a noise increase, potential business use and extra traffic.

The airport is using General 150 FAA grants to pay for 95 percent of the expansion and is asking that the community pay for the other five percent, Trew said. Also the FAA needs documentation and justification, such as letters from businesses that can be from the local or county level.

Karia Lanken, a Shalersville resident, said the area is an agricultural rural, or ARR, district, and there are zoning regulations for being an ARR designation.

“Because the residents want to keep the ARR designation, there would be minimal benefit if any to Shalersville residents,” Lanken said. “It doesn’t fit community goals.”

Airport board member Dan Forman said the expansion plans would help with more employment, help industry and help with county development.

“Industry looks for transportation. You can do that by air or trucks,” said Forman. “Some corporations have executives who want to visit their plants. It’s very convenient for them to use a small airport.”

Shalersville Township trustees will have a question and answer session for the public regarding the Portage County Airport from 7-9 p.m. tonight at the Shalersville Town Hall. The Portage County Commissioners and airport board is expected to attend.

Contact Ryan Friend at [email protected].