Should Smith Fields long-term fate be decided before completion of a plan that would guide its growth and make it eligible for federal funds?
Or must the plan and money be in place before any decision can be made about the small north-side airfields future?
It appears that long-simmering chicken-or-egg question will be answered April 25.
I want (a vote) at our next meeting, and Ill make the motion myself if necessary, President Mike Gouloff told members of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority on Monday. Nothing has changed my mind. Im still for making a long-term commitment to Smith Field.
That commitment is needed, officials and Smith Field supporters said, because it would be foolish to invest large amounts of money in a facility without a long-term future. And although there is no obvious sentiment on the board to close Smith Field, there remains debate concerning the nature and timing of that commitment.
Neil Hayes reminded fellow board members that they originally intended to complete the airport layout plan for Smith Field before making a long-term commitment. Without the plan, Hayes sees no reason to vote especially when he also believes authority officials could do a better job of managing the airport than is being done by Smith Field Air Service, the private firm that has operated the airport since May 2003.
Because of lawsuits and other delays, the Federal Aviation Administration might not complete the plan for another two or three years, airport Executive Director Tory Richardson said. Gouloff and others believe a decision cant wait that long.
Weve been stymied by the uncertainty, said Mike Loomis, attorney for Smith Field. Private investors are willing to pay for improvements, he said, but have been deterred by lack of a long-term commitment.
The board voted in 2002 to close Smith Field on July 1, 2003, but later reversed its decision. Smith Field Air Services one-year management contract expired last May, but has been renewed bimonthly.
One of the people most responsible for saving Smith Field from closure believes a change in management is needed if the small north-side airport is to remain open permanently.
Tim ODonnell said via cell phone Friday he has done his research and plans to listen to current customers and let the airport take shape.
During the public comment of Tuesdays City Council meeting, Joe Tocci, representing a nonprofit group called SMDfund, told council that Smith Field will come before the Fort Wayne Historic...
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