Tuesday, March 30, 1999

Old control tower too dangerous for kids

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — Plans to use the top of the old airport control tower at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport as a playground attraction have crumbled — along with portions of the 120-foot structure.

        Demolition crews began the slow process Monday of tearing down the 31-year-old control tower.

        It is being razed to make room for a $25 million expansion of Comair's airport headquarters.

        The Kenton County Airport Board had hoped to save the tower's cab — the very top of the tower — and move it to a nearby park on airport property.

        Ted Bushelman, the airport's director of communications, wanted children who visit the park after taking an airport tour to be able to play in the cab, the portion of the tower where air-traffic controllers once worked.

        The cab still contains some of the original components — control panels, buttons, knobs and switches — from when the tower was in operation, though the equipment no lon ger works.

        But some rust, jagged edges on equipment and other problems in the cab were discovered by workers as they prepared for the demolition, Mr. Bushelman said.

        “It just won't work for kids,” he said. “In the condition it's in, we can't put it in the park.”

        Instead, the airport has hired an architect to design a mock control tower for the park.

        “We're going to see what it costs, and if it isn't too much we're going to build it,” Mr. Bushelman said.

        Tearing the tower down could take up to two weeks, which would be twice as long as airport officials had originally estimated.

        “The crews tearing it down ran into some problems right away” Monday morning, Mr. Bushelman said. “It's a very solid structure. It's not going to be easy to bring down.”

        Golsch Co. is performing the demolition for Frank Messer & Sons Construction Co., the general contractor on the Comair expansion project.

        Crews started early Monday using a scoop attached to a crane to slam into the cab, shattering glass and biting off chucks of metal and other materials.

        A wrecking ball was later used to bring down more of the concrete tower.

        The tower closed last year when a new 252-foot tower opened. At more than double the size, it solved a problem air-traffic controllers have had with all the recent expansions and growth at the airport.

        “The controllers couldn't see all the way across the airfield in the old tower,” Mr. Bushelman said.

        “In the new tower, that's not a problem.”


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