Thursday, March 25, 2004

Workshop to explain three Lunken options

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLUMBIA TUSCULUM - Neighbors can gather at the Carnegie Center off Eastern Avenue today to learn about three proposed options if the Lunken Airport expands.

At today's 4 to 7 p.m. workshop, three options will be displayed with maps and detailed explanations.

The alternatives range from expanding the 1,140-acre airport to the north or south, which would require taking up some or most of the neighboring city-owned Reeves Golf Course, or moving the levee along Airport Road, pushing it toward Kellogg Avenue.

The golf course option is unpopular with neighbors and received the thumbs-down from city and airport leaders, including the Lunken Airport Oversight Advisory Board at its March 8 monthly meeting.

Taking away even part of the golf course, members agreed, would stir up negative feelings in neighborhoods and hurt recreational opportunities.

"We have to at least put it on the table to consider it and take it off forever," said Eileen Enabnit, director of the city's department of transportation and engineering, which oversees the airport.

Once the options are publicly considered, a final alternative will be decided upon by airport stakeholders and then proposed to Cincinnati City Council later this year when two studies wrap up.

One is a noise study, expected out in April. The other, Lunken's first master plan update since 1989, should be complete by fall.

Both studies will go to City Council and the Federal Aviation Administration for approval.

As City Council considers the airport's future, however, some residents insist council must guarantee to neighbors that the airport won't allow scheduled passenger service.

In a recent panel discussion hosted by The Cincinnati Enquirer, Doug Adams, vice chairman of the Lunken Neighborhood Coalition, and Mount Lookout resident Cathy Heiser stressed that Cincinnati must have such a written agreement before neighbors will support the airport's expansion of runways and raising of weight limits for corporate planes.

"If they take away the scheduled commuters service out of the list ... it takes away a lot of the concern," Adams said.

Both neighbors and a corporate airport user representative, Mike Conaton, chairman of the board of trustees at Xavier University, agreed the airport should not offer commercial flights.

"Our intention is not to expand the airport," he said. "It's to make it more safe and add feet onto the runway, but not for any other purpose than safety for the users.''

Councilman John Cranley is proposing a way to ensure that if the city's airport expands its runways and weight limits for planes it won't be required by the Federal Aviation Administration to permit larger charter flights and commercial planes.

If necessary, he says he will appeal to U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, for help in drafting legislation.

"What drives me nuts is (that on) both sides of it people are saying the same thing," Cranley said. "This is a case where the bureaucrats are not listening to both sides."


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