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AOPA defends Kent State University (Ohio) AirportAOPA defends Kent State University (Ohio) Airport

Mr. Thomas C. Clapper
Transportation General Manager
Kent State University
4020 Kent Rd.
Stow, OH 44224

Dear Mr. Clapper:

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, representing more than 385,000 members nationwide and 13,480 members in Ohio, is disappointed to hear of recent press reports that indicate Kent State University is considering a plan to close Kent State University Airport (1G3) in Stow, Ohio. This reportedly is a plan that has been in the works for some time now, and this is the first the public and aviation community is learning of this effort to close this important airport.

Kent State University Airport is home to more than 50 aircraft and, according to information maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), boasts more than 72,500 annual operations. This is more operations than Akron Fulton and Portage County airports combined. In addition, Kent State University Airport is home to the university's aviation program, which enrolls about 300 students.

Since 1982 the university has willfully accepted over $3.7 million in FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to improve and maintain the airport. As recently as 1999, the airport sponsor accepted federal funds to rehabilitate the apron, runway, and taxiway, making Kent State University Airport a viable airport. Acceptance of these federal funds comes with certain obligations to the federal government, including a requirement to continue to operate the airport as an airport for a specific period of time of 20 years. These agreements are a contract with the federal government and must be honored; simply paying the funds back is not an option.

No other airport in the area, including Portage County Airport, will be able to fully accommodate the based aircraft and operations should Kent State University Airport be closed. Also, another nearby airport, Akron Fulton International, would be severely impacted by the closure of Kent State University Airport. It is AOPA's fear that should Kent State University be closed, other airports in the area will be forced to accept more traffic and aircraft than they are able to handle.

Kent State University Airport's proximity to the cities of Kent and Stow makes it the ideal airport for university alumni, prospective students, and university visitors. In addition, the airport serves as a vital resource as business people and tourists to the area utilize the services of this public airport. The decision to close the airport by the university for "cost cutting" measures will hurt the local economy, businesses, and surrounding communities.

AOPA is committed to defeat any attempts to close Kent State University Airport. Our nation's airports are a valuable resource. Too much federal taxpayer investment has gone into developing our country's air transportation system to allow Kent State University Airport to close.

We appreciate your consideration of our views on this matter. We urge you to reject the closure of Kent State University Airport and instead help generate support for the airport and general aviation. Should there be any quantitative studies done on the future of Kent State University Airport, AOPA would like the opportunity to review and comment on those studies. In addition, we strongly suggest public presentation and discussion of any plan affecting Kent State University Airport.

Sincerely,

Anne Esposito
Vice President
Airports Department

Cc: Carol A. Cartwright, Kent State University President
Lynne S. Dragomier, Chair, Kent State University Board of Trustees
Woodie Woodward, FAA Associate Administrator for Airports
Cecelia Hunzinker, Great Lakes Regional Administrator

August 23, 2002

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