The Park Township Board of Trustees placed an operations millage for the Airport at .185 on the March ballot. The millage proceeds were to be used for the operation and maintenance of the airport. The millage failed by a 56% to 44% margin. The Board was clear in its intent that if the millage failed, the runway would be removed and fixed wing airplanes would no longer be able to land on the site. Residents and interested stakeholders were passionate on all sides of the issue. The airport was delisted and the paved runway closed permanently on August 15. The paved runway was removed at the end of August.
The Township is currently constructing a parking lot at the end of the original grass runway; which will be used as the entrance and gateway to the new Cooper Van Wieren trail system. Bike trails are being installed off of 152nd Avenue and Ottawa Beach Road leading to the new trail system and parking lot. The millings from the runway are being used as a base for the parking lot and new bike trails. The Township is working with local biking groups to create mountain biking trails for use in the Cooper Van Wieren preserve. Walking paths and even a section that will accommodate equestrian uses are in the planning and design stages.
The Civil Air Patrol has committed to staying at the Historic Airport Hangar. We are glad they are staying and welcome their activity on the site. The remote control airplane clubs that have historically used the site are also continuing on the property, as well as Powered Parachutes. Helicopters have been permitted to land as well. The Township is currently looking at where that will occur on the site and how best to design for helicopter usage.
The Township is committed to maintaining the site for open space / recreation uses. The only exception is a 10 acre triangle piece of property on the far north east side of the Airport. Under a previous deed restriction, that land will revert back to the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is still researching what their intentions with that land will be.
We will continue to implement the plans already in place and work to improve and refine the vision for the property with the next Board of Trustees. We are all aware of the sensitivity and differences of perspective on this issue. Moving forward, the Board and staff will be working on making the site accessible and valuable to all residents in Park Township.