Airport approved for $2.117 million economic revitalization grant

| December 7, 2021

Coshocton Richard Downing Airport announced the approval of an Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) project in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Mineral Resources Management (MRM) to reclaim abandoned mine land and construct a multipurpose aircraft hangar on the airport property. This project approved and funded by the United States Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement and administrated by ODNR MRM, targets economic revitalization in communities adversely impacted by declines in the coal economy.

According to Marty Dobson, airport administrator, the multipurpose hangar will provide overnight and short-term storage for business and private aircraft offering essential protection from inclement weather and incidental damage. “Transient pilots routinely seek hangarage to protect their high value aircraft from snow, ice, lightening, hail, and heat. They also seek hangar space to stage aircraft for next-day operations. Much of our current business and leisure traffic repositions to other airports where short-term hangarage is available rather than tie down aircraft outside on our ramp.”

The new 7,040 square foot hangar will hold up to three medium jets or various combinations of other aircraft including airplanes and helicopters. The hangar will expand four-season airport operations and generate additional revenue from hangar rentals and related fuel sales. The hangar will also house a new avionics service and training operation that will benefit general aviation. This will add to a growing center of excellence in aviation in Coshocton County that includes aircraft maintenance, maintenance training, assembly of lightweight aircraft, and fabrication of aircraft parts.

Another major component of the project is reclamation of abandoned mine land on airport property that predate federal reclamation laws. Michael Bowden, AML Projects Coordinator for ODNR said, “Coshocton Airport is an ideal partner for the AMLER program. The airport complex, including the runway and various structures, was constructed on reclaimed mine land and has provided the public continuous service since 1969. Removal of additional hazards left after surface mining, such as highwalls and hazardous water bodies, will enhance public safety, improve wildlife habitat, and create acreage suitable for future commercial development. These reclamation enhancements coupled with airport’s broad economic impacts were compelling.”

Coshocton Airport is a nonprofit public airport operated by the Coshocton County Regional Airport Authority. Flight operations into Coshocton Airport benefit many local industries including manufacturing, oil-gas, food processing, furniture/cabinet building, natural resources, agribusiness, hospitality, and tourism. Many businesses operating in Coshocton County benefit from direct private flights to Coshocton Airport which significantly reduce travel time compared to commercial flights to regional metropolitan airports followed by long drives to Coshocton. Coshocton Airport also serves many leisure guests who fly to Coshocton County for recreational opportunities including rural retreats, tourism, hunting, wineries, and shopping. Increased overnight stays by business and leisure travelers will impact area hotels, inns, restaurants, and specialty retail. Further, added revenue from hangar rentals and related fuel sales will help support airport operations and reduce long term dependence on government funding.

A centerpiece of the AMLER program is catalyzing economic revitalization for communities impacted by declines in the coal economy. In recent decades Coshocton County has experienced significant economic and employment losses associated with the closure of the AEP Conesville coalfired powerplant and area coal mines coupled with related reductions ancillary businesses and coal hauling by local railroad and trucking enterprises. Improving community access through private flight operations to Coshocton Airport and creating additional property adjacent to the runway for commercial development can benefit efforts to retain, expand, and relocate businesses and increase tourism travel to Coshocton County.

Dobson said, “Coshocton Airport is an essential transportation gateway to our community. Enhancements funded by the ODNR AMLER grant will enable the airport to broaden its economic impact while generating additional revenue to support airport operations.”

The total project budget is $2,225,000. The ODNR AMLER grant is $2,117,000. The balance of funding has been pledged by foundations, businesses, and individuals. Authorization to initiate construction and reclamation requires completion of an environmental assessment and funding agreements. Pending availability of construction materials, hangar construction should be completed within 90 days of groundbreaking. Reclamation of abandoned mine land targeted by the program is anticipated to occur in 2023.

Category: Business

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