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AOPA raises red flag over renewed talk of closing Cleveland's Burke LakefrontAOPA raises red flag over renewed talk of closing Cleveland's Burke Lakefront

<BR><SPAN class=twodeck>Airport bashing at recent public forum raises concerns again</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=twodeck>Airport bashing at recent public forum raises concerns again</SPAN>

AOPA has called on the mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, to step in after some vocal opponents of that city's Burke Lakefront Airport again raised the specter of closing the waterfront airport. Two recent public forums on development plans for the Lake Erie shoreline turned into calls to close the airport. The head of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association went so far as to say, "The early returns are in, and Burke is toast."

In response, AOPA Vice President for Regional Affairs Bill Dunn sent a letter Friday to Mayor Jane Campbell, a longtime supporter of the airport, again urging the city to maintain Burke. Dunn also reminded the mayor of the city's obligation to keep the airport open in return for millions of dollars in federal airport improvement funds.

"These agreements are a contract with the federal government and must be honored," said Dunn in the letter. "Simply paying the funds back is not an option." The FAA made that abundantly clear in late April in two strongly worded letters to St. Petersburg, Florida.

Dunn also pointed out that Burke Lakefront is a potent engine for Cleveland's economy, generating $61 million in economic impact annually and drawing thousands of visitors each year for the Cleveland Grand Prix and the Labor Day Airshow.

The city has a master plan for development along the Lake Erie shoreline that does include the airport. The public forums were about the master plan and did not include the airport on the agenda. But airport opponents used the opportunity to renew their calls to close it.

Closure would affect 13,000 AOPA members in Ohio and another 60,000 members who live in adjacent states.

"The association is committed to defeat any attempts to close this valuable community resource," said Dunn. "At the same time, we stand ready to assist you in creating a bright future for Burke Lakefront Airport and your fine city."

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