Thursday, September 21, 2006
FAA prohibits closure of Bakersfield Municipal Airport
KGET-TV Ch 17 (NBC), Bakersfield (CA)
BAKERSFIELD – The Federal Aviation Administration shot down the city’s push to close Bakersfield Municipal Airport. The FAA ruled the Union Avenue airport is in compliance with federal requirements and said it is safe and fiscally self-sustainable. Federal officials said the city has an obligation to run the airpark, and the city accepted more than $10 million in federal airport assistance between 1985 and 2004.
The city said it will not appeal the FAA’s ruling.
“At this point in time, I think it’s pretty clear from the FAA’s point of view that the answer is no,” said Rhonda Smiley from the City of Bakersfield.
John Harmon, who makes kit aircrafts at the airport, said the city has stymied growth for the past ten years.
“I think they’ve been slapped pretty hard on this one,” said Harmon. “They’ve been told a number of times, ‘pay attention to what we’re telling you. We don’t close airports.’ If it’s a lemon to you, squeeze it, make lemon juice. The airport will survive.”
The city put tenant lease proposals in a holding pattern while waiting to see if efforts to close the airpark would take off.
Those that work at the airport are ready for those issues to be resolved.
“We haven’t been able to grow because of fear if you build a hangar and grow a little bit, that they were going to close down the airport,” said flight instructor Dee Blum. “Now knowing that the airport is going to be keep open by the ruling of the FAA, we’re going to start building new hangars, the restaurants going to get going, and it’s going to be the active airport that it used to be.”
The city wanted to build low income residential housing at the site of the airpark.