By: Scott Wegener
BLUE ASH, Ohio - The Blue Ash Airport could really use a control tower.
Not to communicate with the air traffic, but to have a dialog between the city of Cincinnati and those who fly from the aging hangars.
"If somebody from Cincinnati would return a phone call I might get some answers," complains Steve Sprovach, vice president of the Flying Neutrons, a local flying club.
He says both the pilots and business owners have been left in the dark about the fate of the tiny airport.
Cincinnati sold 130 acres of the airport, including the hangars to the city of Blue Ash to develop a park.
That sale came with an expectation that Cincinnati would use the money to build new hangars and taxiways to keep the airport operational.
"Cincinnati has just made no move to accomplish any of those tasks," says Sprovach.
Time may have already run out.
Blue Ash plans to demolish the old hangers starting August 1st.
"There is not enough time between now and August 1st to accomplish all the FAA requirements and continue operating as an FAA airport," says Blue Ash Airport Manager Fred Anderton.
The contract for the 130 acres states that "Purchaser and Seller recognize that the Blue Ash Airport is a regional community asset, benefiting both residential and business citizens. To the extent that it is operationally and economically feasible, Seller agrees to provide for the reconfiguration of the Blue Ash Airport operation onto new facilities located on Residual Property.”
Spokesperson for Cincinnati Meg Oberding says they are still evaluating what to do with the property, but that it's "difficult to make a business case" to keep the airport flying.
Sprovach says, not from his perspective.
"it's a busy airport," he says. "They (the Blue Ash Airport) run 35,000 operations a year, we've got two flight schools here."
"The location of this airport is the best on any airport that I've ever been to," says Bill Christian, who runs Blue Ash Aviation. "It's so close to interstates, it's very close to businesses, it's very close to restaurants, (and) hotels."
Once the old hangars and taxiways are gone, chances of the airport surviving may not be able to get off the ground.
The contract says Cincinnati has the stick. “If at any time between the Effective Date and the Possession Date, Seller’s estimated costs to reconfigure the Blue Ash Airport prove to be prohibitive, or if adequate grant financing assistance is not available, then the Seller reserves the right to close the Blue Ash Airport.”
Oberding says Cincinnati's request for a grant from the FAA was not approved.
She also says while federal law requires the money from the sale be used for airport operations, Cincinnati is negotiating with the FAA to use those funds for other purposes.