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Authority is interested in Chambersburg airport

October 15, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Chambersburg, Pa. - The authority that owns Harrisburg (Pa.) International Airport and Capital City Airport has expressed in acquiring Chambersburg Municipal Airport, according to Borough Manager Eric Oyer.

Oyer said representatives from the borough and county, federal and state aviation officials, and Friends of Chambersburg Area Airport were among those at the meeting last Friday with officials from the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority.

"They have an interest from the potential of Chambersburg Airport to support their system," Oyer said at the end of Tuesday's borough council meeting. He said another meeting will be held in the next couple of weeks.

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Formed in 1998, the authority includes representatives from Cumberland, Dauphin and York counties, the cities of Harrisburg, Middletown and York, and Lower Swatara and Fairview townships. The group took over Harrisburg International Airport.

The borough earlier this year announced its intention to sell the airport after the end of this year, which prompted the formation of Friends of Chambersburg Airport, a group of pilots, aviation enthusiasts and businesses based at the airport. In July, the group had requested that Franklin County explore the possibility of forming an authority to own and operate the airport.

"We turned it over to staff for investigation and to determine the viability of this thing," County Commission Bob Thomas said. He said he did not attend Friday's meeting.

Built in the late 1970s, the 93-acre facility has a 3,300-foot runway. Oyer said Tuesday that a recent appraisal of the airport put its market value at $790,000.

If the borough finds a buyer for the property, that money and $30,000 in airport capital funds would be applied to street reconstruction projects in 2005 and 2006 as part of a five-year, $2.5 million public works project, Oyer said earlier this year.The appraised value of the airport has gone up from $585,000, when the last appraisal was done in 1997, according to borough figures.

While owned by the borough, the airport actually is located several miles out of town in Greene Township. When built three decades ago, it was hoped the airport would be a boost to economic development, but a transportation study done a dozen years ago determined it had little impact, in part because of its proximity to Hagerstown Regional Airport.

In a letter to the board of commissioners this summer, the group of airport supporters said the facility pumps about $500,000 a year into the local economy and employs about 30 full- and part-timers.

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