The future of the Kutztown Airport was the topic of interest for the majority of the more than 35 people attending the Sept. 3 Maxatawny Township Board of Supervisors meeting.Kutztown Airport auctioned off everything - airplanes, equipment and its fuel pump-on Sept. 6.
Local pilot Art Carola, representing "a group of concerned citizens worried about the future of the Kutztown Airport," told the board that local pilots have questions and concerns about the future of the airport. He asked about rumors circulating, including that the property has been sold to Kutztown University and that the airport is closing.
"Officially and unofficially, we have not been notified" [of the sale], said Board Chairperson Allen Leiby.
Matt Santos of Kutztown University Relations verified that The Kutztown University Foundation did purchase a 15-acre zone of the Kutztown Airport ground from its owners in late 2007. The 15 acres is adjacent to the university and Kutztown Foundation lands. More specifically, the land can be accessed from the western most parking lot on South Campus. It is at the end of the emergency runway closer to the back of the airport.
Santos said the land was purchased as a part of the university's housing master plan to alleviate parking on campus and in surrounding areas. There are no current plans to purchase the additional zones.
Carola asked the supervisors to "recognize that there is a group of people that are interested in getting a group together to take over operations of the airport."
They are seeking any support the supervisors can give. They have a petition with signatures of people who are also interested in supporting what Carola calls "this 60-year-old asset to our community."
Last week, the board authorized solicitor Jill Nagy to send letters to government entities regarding the airport. She was advised that she corresponded to "local representatives in the area, state and federal governments, as well the chairperson of the transportation committee in state House and Senate, and the aviation subcommittee of the Department of Transportion." Rep. Dante Santoni Jr. (D-126) was also sent a letter.
The letter indicated that the airport sale is imminent and that they had already conducted a lot of the leg-work for formulating a plan, and asked them to "use their power to stop any deterioration or selling of the airport."
Supervisor Gayle Sanders added that the letter invited recipients to "meet with Maxatawny staff or attend a public meeting to discuss this project, so they could see the community support to save the airport."
Supervisor David Hoffman said the township doesn't have the money to purchase the airport. At the Sept. 3 meeting, the board moved to send letters to Kutztown University's president and to the KU Foundation regarding the airport's future.
Pilot Dick Gonzalez from the Schuylkill County Airport said, "Without much expense, the township can be involved in zoning the facility as an airport."
Nagy said she and Falencki are working on a zoning recommendation for the next meeting. Gonzalez added that one option is to "form an airport authority, but the owner would have to cooperate."
Gonzalez pointed out that the property owner is an absentee owner.
Roger Camm said he is the oldest continuing tenant at the Kutztown Airport. He's been there 40 years.
"He'd like to convince the state of Pennsylvania or Kutztown University to maintain the property as an airport. It would be the only state college that students could walk to and also learn aviation. It's a great resource," Camm said.
Eugene Salvatore, president of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 855 in Kutztown, said, "We're currently losing one airport per day in the United States, and they're not making any more airports."
The EAA provides assistance to save airports like this one.
Pat Holleran learned to fly at Kutztown in 2002 and flies his plane for both business and pleasure.
In a discussion after the meeting, he said, "The status of the MedEvac helicopter could also be in question. They rent to Earl Binder, who sold all his planes. The question is how long is the owner of the diner going to allow Earl Binder to continue there" without planes and a fuel pump. He said the owner did not want to give Binder a long-term lease, without which Binder could not make needed improvements.
Call Scott McLellan of the Kutztown Airport Support Network at 610-349-6960.
Residents gathered outside the Maxatawny Township building to discuss how to save the Kutztown Airport.