Final closure of Rialto Municipal Airport is now almost guaranteed

Rialto AirportIt’s nearly guaranteed this time, after more than 10 years in the works, the shuttering of the Rialto Municipal Airport, as officials send notice to the Federal Aviation Administration of a final shut down next week.

“We have notified the FAA that Sept. 18 is our 99 percent definitive date for closure,” said Robb Steel, assistant to Rialto’s administrator. “We expect the last group of planes to fly out this weekend.”

This morning Steel plans to give a 72-hour notice of closure to the FAA, with the last official day for planes to fly in or out on Wednesday and official closure on Thursday.

The closure is the first step in paving the way for the stalled Renaissance planned community, a redevelopment project of 1,439-acres of homes and a business center to be built near the 210 Freeway that includes the 434-acre Rialto Municipal Airport. The project has been in the works for more than a decade and will utilize the airport land.

Deadlines have come and gone to close the airport and remove all 120 tenants, but Thursday’s date appears to be solid, with only five percent of tenants remaining, Steel said.

“By and large they’re all gone. I think we’re down to the seven aviation tenants that are expected to fly out this weekend,” said Steel. “I think we have five non-aviation tenants left up there.”

Nearly $30 million has been spent on relocation expenses, Steel said, and complications have come from finding places to relocate tenants to the city not owning property at the airport to allow for eviction notices.

But now, hardship extensions have been exhausted and hangars are being constructed for tenants such as the sheriff’s Aviation Division to move-out in April 2015 to a 61,640-square-foot aviation facility being built at the San Bernardino International Airport. Their presence at the airport won’t impede progress on the redevelopment project,

After the closure, the next step is to conduct environmental testing on airport buildings and the site, clean up toxic waste areas and begin demolishing buildings, Steel said