for north central Ky.
Speedway, Belterra Casino have
heightened need, local officials say
CARROLLTON, Ky. (August 2003) A feasibility study
to determine what need, if any, exists for a regional airport in northern
Kentucky will soon be under way. HMB Professional Engineers will conduct
the study, paid for by a Federal Aviation Association grant of $350,000.
The firm will begin the study process, which will include an inventory
of Carroll, Gallatin and Owen counties and a survey of registered aircraft
owners in the area, once the FAA releases the funds.
County Judge Executive Harold Tomlinson
"Everythings in line; were just waiting
on the money, said Owen County Judge-Executive Billy OBanion,
one of three county judges involved with the project.
This isnt the first time that a regional airport has been considered
in the northern Kentucky area, according to Mark Paslick, HMBs
vice president in charge of business development. The area has been
looked at in the past, but one of the difficulties faced by proponents
of the idea was finding an area that did not interfere with Cincinnati
airspace, Paslick noted.
That was several years ago, however, and since that time the area has
witnessed the kind of growth that now makes reconsidering a regional
airport important. Weve seen a considerable amount of growth
in this area, said Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold Tomlinson.
The Kentucky Speedway has certainly sparked some interest, and
were really not that far from Belterra (Casino), he said.
The Kentucky Speedway, located in Gallatin County, has definitely been
one of the catalysts for the study. Speedway officials were actually
the first in the area to propose the idea of a regional airport to HMB,
according to Paslick.
We were asked to come up and answer questions about the potential
for an airport, Paslick said. He noted that just about every race
track with a NASCAR Winston Cup event has an airport nearby, definitely
a consideration of speedway officials who have been working to secure
such an event at the Sparta track. The racetrack would guarantee
the airport a successful venture simply because of the use that they
would have with race car drivers, said Judge-Executive George
Zubaty of Gallatin County.
The Kentucky Speedway may have a vested interest in supporting a regional
airport, but according to Paslick, airports have to be sponsored by
a public entity, voiding any possibility of sponsorship by the speedway.
Because of this, HMB approached the three county judges who showed interest
in the project.
HMB came to the judges and proposed the idea, knowing down the
road it would be a bid-type process, said OBanion.
Before approaching the judges, Paslick said HMB consulted the FAA to
see if there was any interest in the project and what funding might
be available. After finding that there was interest, Paslick took the
idea to OBanion, Tomlinson and Zubaty. HMB wrote the grant
and applied for funding, OBanion said.
One reason for the FAAs interest is the lack of air service that
exists in the northern Kentucky area. If you look at the (FAAs)
national plan, northern Kentucky is (currently) one of the lowest serviced
areas, Paslick said. That fact made securing an FAA grant for
the study less difficult, he said.
Once the grant was secured, HMB was chosen for the study because of
its history with such projects. Our company can and has taken
airports through planning, design and construction, said Paslick.
Most recently, the company worked on an airport in Williamsburg, Ky.,
that is currently under construction.
Were also extremely experienced in site selection,
Paslick said of the next phase in the process should an airport be deemed
feasible by their study. That, however, could take a while. Right
now, were just taking baby steps, he said.
Before any airport sites can be considered, HMB must determine through
the study if there is a need. What were trying to gauge is how
many aircraft owners out there would be interested in basing a craft
at this airport if it were in existence today, Paslick said.
One way to determine that is to canvass all airplane owners in Carroll,
Gallatin, Owen counties and a number of surrounding counties. The company
will also conduct personal interviews with larger industries in the
area and inventory growth that has taken place over the past several
One industry that could benefit from a regional airport is Argent Metal
Technologies, a New Zealand-based aluminum wheel manufacturing company
that recently purchased the former American Racing building. It will
provide about 288 new jobs in Gallatin County once it is in full swing,
according to Zubaty. Zubaty said he has spoken with several of the company
officials and that many have expressed the value of their time, including
that spent in international travel. Having an airport conveniently located
near their plant would save company officials who travel frequently
valuable time, Zubaty said.
Even if HMB determines that there is a need for a regional airport,
securing funds for the project would likely be a long process. The initial
grant of $350,000 will only pay for the study, which should take up
to three months to complete, according to Paslick.
Tomlinson said he has been asked why those funds could not be used for
other improvements, such as roads and schools. One thing that
I think is important to note is that the $350,000 is federal dollars
designated for aviation only. It cant be used for anything else,
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