Eden Prairie airport raising funds for expansion; Longer runways at Flying Cloud Airport have been a sore subject for neighbors for 15 years. Now, construction could begin by the end of 2009.

Controversial plans to expand Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, which have been around for 15 years but never begun, now have a timetable and a funding plan. The commission in charge of the airport intends to lengthen its two runways by the...


Pat MulQueeny, the Chamber's president, was pleased as well. "It's a positive outcome," he said.

Some businesses on board

While the city's role in the expansion is neutral, MAC is pressing ahead.

Many of the Chamber's members are "interested in making the expansion happen," MulQueeny said, and would be willing to at least indirectly fund the expansion by buying hangar space.

Recently, he heard from the owner of one of the group's smaller businesses - "one you'd never expect" and which he declined to identify - who said he has six clients who'd like to fly to Eden Prairie. But four of those six have private jets that can't use the airport because the runways are slightly too short, MulQueeny said.

Those are the businesses MAC hopes to target in its fundraising, Schmidt said. "Many would directly benefit."

Schmidt said he had not planned to announce the new fundraising strategy until later this week, although he had spoken with Mayor Phil Young, the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce and some businesses about the plan.

He said the airport's expansion was stalled not by the price of the project but by the process.

For example, MAC has had to deal with Northwest Airlines' objections to using fees from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to help pay for work at the area's smaller reliever airports.

"We're about to resolve that complaint. We're finishing the environmental review process," Schmidt said. "All that puts us in a position, finally, to move forward on this project."

Jenna Ross - 612-673-7168

STORY IN BRIEF

Two developments in the controversy over Flying Cloud Airport:

- The Metropolitan Airports Commission plans to expand the airport's two runways by 2009, which would allow heavier planes to land there. MAC will ask area corporations to fund 20 percent of the project's cost.

- The Eden Prairie City Council approved a motion that affirms the "neutral stance" implied by a 2002 agreement about the expansion. The move, which passed unanimously, seems to satisfy both sides.



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