For Immediate Release: 11/09/17
Contact: Jerry Hunsburger, Supervisor, Park Township
Howard Fink, Manager, Park Township
The decision not to renew the contract for Skydive Holland was not popular among the fans, clients of Skydive Holland, and some residents of Park Township. Nonetheless, the decision was made for a variety of reasons.
The Board has maintained that the airport is to operate revenue neutral, so that your local tax dollars are not used to directly subsidize airport operations. If you use fuel sales as a barometer of airport activity, Skydive Holland accounted for roughly 40% of airport activity. The Skydive operation contributed revenue from fuel sales, hangar rental and the additional $1000 contract fee, however this was not enough to cover our costs and the percentage of airport general expenses that would be attributed to this business. In total, the Township calculations show an estimated $5,879 overall loss to the airport budget from Skydive Holland using fuel sales to allocate costs. This means that the Airport Operating budget was subsidizing the skydive operation. The costs above do not include necessary infrastructure upgrades and the replacement costs for depreciating assets.
The Park Township airport has a rich history, and was here long before major residential development occurred around it. Nonetheless, it is now located in a residential community, posing unique land use challenges. Significant housing development within the vicinity of the airport has occurred over many decades. Ignoring possible incompatible impacts would not be prudent.
The complaints regarding Skydive Holland were communicated by residents displeased by the volume of skydiving activity and the noise it brought. As the number of flights and jumps increased each year, so did the complaints from residents. Attempts were made to alleviate many of the problems by having Skydive Holland change routes, equipment, etc. Unfortunately, with the increase in the volume of flights / jumps, noise complaints continued.
The decision was made taking all the issues into consideration. The cost/benefit of the financial components of the contract, resident complaints, increased risk / liability to township taxpayers and other concerns/issues.
Park Township airport is surrounded by a residential community, and we need to acknowledge that as a baseline. Whatever we do moving forward, airport activities need to be compatible with our residential character. Additionally, private business should not be subsidized, but instead should contribute to the future sustainability of our unique public airport. It will take significant private/public partnerships as we invest in the future of the Park Township Airport.