2017-09-14 / Front Page

Township board votes to shutter airport, gives OK for VFW liquor license

BY ALEX PETRIE

DAVISON TOWNSHIP — The Davison Township Board of Trustees had some “tough decisions” to make at their monthly meeting on Monday evening, according to Township Supervisor Karen Miller. The majority of the meeting was spent deliberating about a number of items that were not budgeted for the year, but required immediate attention from the board. The meeting came to an end with the decision to close the Athelone Williams Memorial Airport, located on North Gale Road.

The board began the meeting by carrying a motion to approve a Class C liquor license for the Davison VFW Post 4087, set to increase their membership with the addition of the Fraternal Order of Police, who are joining the club. The new liquor license is required for a higher membership, said VFW Commander Dan Burrow, adding that the Class C status will allow the public to consume alcohol as well.

The deliberations began with bids for the painting of the Williams Park gate and archway, followed by bids to paint the Williams Park classroom. All told, the repairs are expected to cost approximately $5,000, a fact that was met with frustration from board member Matthew Karr, who said that he had no intention of paying for anything that was not in the annual budget this year. He said that in order to pay for the Williams Park repairs, the board would “need to find something to cut from the Parks & Rec budget.”

“These are the tough decisions we’re here to make,” said Miller, addressing the board and the audience.

Shortly after the Williams Park discussions, the board addressed the matter of whether the airport should remain open, or if it should close, with attempts to sell or develop the land, which has potential for industrial business purposes.

Miller said that it will take time to close the airport, and that a number of actions would need to take place, including notifying surrounding airports, removing the runway markings and looking for potential investors, among other arrangements. She then listed the disadvantages of keeping the airport open, including the considerable costs, the required insurance and the fact that it is situated on a flood plain, making it prone to inundation after heavy rains.

“I’m just not ready to pull the trigger and close it,” said Karr, explaining that the board should hear what the public has to say, and adding that an airport can be a very valuable asset to a community.

Board member Tim Elkins countered, saying, “If we had money to invest in it, it could be great for the community, but the bottom line is that we don’t have the money.”

The board discussed surrounding airports, including Flushing’s Dalton Airport, saying that many nearby airports have flourished, but Davison’s has not, with no one able to cite a specific reason.

In the end, the board passed a motion to close the airport, with Karr voting no.

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