Future of airport up in the airPublished 9:24am Friday, June 7, 2013
The Lawrence County Commissioners appear to be moving ahead quickly with plans to potentially convert the county airport into a commercial real estate development. But the commissioners should slow down long enough to ask some vital questions before the project truly gets off the proverbial ground.
We have long questioned whether or not the airport actually benefits Lawrence County and have urged the commissioners to decide whether or not it is part of the future. If so, the county must go “all in,” developing it into a stronger aviation facility.
That position hasn’t changed.
However, the county is certainly smart to look at all its options and a large retail complex could be very beneficial.
Is it realistic or even feasible?
The former Kmart Plaza in Chesapeake sits mostly vacant, as do several other commercial sites across the county.
The commissioners should proceed cautiously and ask lots of questions.
These include: What impact would it have on Huntington Tri-State Airport if Lawrence County’s airpark was closed? How would closing the airport affect economic development leaders here? What stipulations can be put in place to ensure that this property is developed in the best possible manner? Can the county have some level of control of it? Where else could an airport be developed in Lawrence County and how much would that cost?
These are just some of the questions that the commissioners really need to answer before going beyond the point of no return.
These answers will go a long way toward determining if this project should take flight or be grounded.