‘X’ marks the spot
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jan 01, 2014 | 1712 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Closing Hardwick
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Memories and excitement about the future were in the air as a handful of people joined Cleveland Regional Jetport director of operations Mark Fidler in closing Hardwick Field to air traffic on Tuesday.

To officially close the airfield to incoming planes, Fidler, with the help of pilot Will Morgan, placed a giant yellow X on either side of the runway.

The runway at Hardwick Field was 3,300 feet long. The runway at the Cleveland Regional Jetport is 5,500 feet and will be extended 500 feet within the next year.

“Hardwick (Field) has been open for over 60 years … it’s been a good facility for Cleveland, but really it has been outdated for a long time, and we have needed a new facility,” Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority chairman Lou Patten said.

Patten remembered visiting Hardwick Field with his father in the 1970s.

He has served with the Airport Authority since it was formed in 2004.

Airplane hangars stood empty during the closing, as the majority of local pilots have relocated to T-hangars at the Cleveland Regional Jetport.

“Most of the hangars Hardwick had, the city owned the land and leased the land to individuals or companies, and they would build their own hangars,” Patten said.

The same arrangement is being used at the jetport for businesses and ministries wanting their own hangar.

When the land is sold, owners of Hardwick hangars will have the option to bid on the property where their hangar sits, Patten said.

He said the property could be sold as separate parcels or as one property. Pilots can move the hangars to a new location or sell them to the new property owner, if they do not buy the land.

Morgan is one local pilot who has made use of the city-constructed T-hangars. The pilots rent the hangars from the city.

Morgan often landed his 1946 Ercoupe plane on that runway during the nearly 30 years he has had his pilot’s license.

“It’s kind of sad closing the airport down and stuff, but I wanted to help Mark today with it just to be here,” Morgan said. “I like the new airport. I think it is great for the community, but it will mean saying goodbye to a good friend.”

The Airport Authority had originally looked at renovating Hardwick Field to provide needed updates.

The cost of property to expand the facility, as well as concerns from neighboring residents, became deterring factors to expanding the airport.

Patten said moving the city’s airport became the goal. Land was reviewed and property on Dry Valley Road was selected.

“There were actually fewer property owners [who] would be affected by building it out there; plus, we had a lot more land available,” Patten said. “The state had wanted us to build a new airport for a long time, so they were certainly delighted that we were able to put that together.”

Some funding was secured for the project from a state block grant made possible from revenues collected by the Federal Aviation Administration through taxing aircraft fuel and airfare.

Patten said the grants paid 90 to 95 percent of qualifying projects included in the jetport.

The jetport will celebrate one year of operation on Jan. 25.

“The new jetport is just going to be a tremendous asset for Cleveland,” Patten stressed. “I think it’s going to help in economic development and bring additional jobs. Our corporate companies that are here have been using it a great deal already. We almost have corporate aircraft coming in daily.”

Hardwick Field will be sold either by public auction or sealed bid early in 2014. The deed to the property will specify that the land cannot be used as an airport.