Since the City of Griffin and/or Spalding County own the airport property, both commissions will have to vote to approve the request of the Federal Aviation Administration to declare the four tracts as non-essential for aviation use. The Spalding County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to take up the request at its next meeting, Feb. 4.
The four tracts are described as Parcel #1, 14 +/- acres commonly known as Airport Road Park; Parcel #2, 16 +/- acres commonly known as Kiwanis Fairgrounds; Parcel #3, 8.5 +/- acres commonly known as bike trail; and Parcel #4, 50 +/- acres commonly known as grass strip area.
Airport Director Robert Mohl said, “it allows us flexibility to do what we need to do to run the airport.”
It would allow the Airport Authority, to sell off or use the parcels as collateral to borrow money for new airport projects, including the purchase of land for the new airport or purchase or building of hangars at the current airport.
Commissioner Doug Hollberg asked if the land would be sold out from under the Kiwanis Club.
“All it does is remove the grant assurance from these tracts,” City Commissioner Dick Morrow, who is also chairman of the Airport Authority said. “As it stands now, we can’t even sell it to the Kiwanis.”
The leases on two of those tracts, the Kiwanis Fairgrounds and Airport Road Park, are two of the larger leases with the airport currently at $18,000 and $90,000, respectively.
The grant assurances are placed on the airport property as collateral for the FAA grants for airport improvements. These fall off after a while, but are renewed as new funds are granted for repairs and updates.
If the city and county decided to just shut down the airport, for example, they would have to pay back the outstanding balance to the FAA, currently in the millions of dollars, which had been previously granted for improvements based on the continued operation of the airport.
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Once approved by the FAA, the grant assurances will continue only on the portions of the airport property actually used for aviation purposes. New hangers could be built on the non-essential tracks if not sold off, but Mohl told Aiport Authority members earlier this month, “we’d have to pay for improvements. If we asked FAA or GDOT to fund taxiways, then the tracts are no longer considered non-essential.”