April 11, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
Essex Skypark, a publicly owned airport southeast of Baltimore, Md., that was being threatened with closure, will remain open for the next 99 years. The Essex Skypark Association announced April 10 it had signed a new 99-year lease with Baltimore County to continue to operate the airport.
The county had indicated it wanted to close the airport and replant the facility with trees. Essex Skypark has a 2,084-foot runway and a landing area for seaplanes.
"Over this past year, we have worked to accomplish three goals: First, secure a long-term lease for the airport; second, obtain a historical designation; and third, obtain IRS nonprofit status,” according to a letter from the association. “All three were successfully completed by March 15, 2013.”
Under the lease agreement, the association was required to pay Baltimore County $200,000. The association received the funds through a bond drive to be paid back to investors over six years.
“We are happy that Essex Skypark has been saved from being closed,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, who attended support meetings for the airport. “This is a group of local pilots who did everything right to fight the closure—from building strong community support among airport neighbors to effectively lobbying their elected officials—and now this historic general aviation airport will be available for decades to come.”
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