Akron City Council approves improvements to Akron Executive Airport, paving way for development on nearby land

AKRON, Ohio – City Council on Monday approved plans for more than $6 million in work at Akron Executive Airport, including improved runway lights and reconstruction of a runway that would allow for development of nearby land.

The city is slated to pay for $149,500, or 5%, of $2.99 million for improvements to runway lights and signs, pavement markings and the reconstruction of about 6,000 feet of the fence around the airport perimeter, and is asking the Ohio Department of Transportation to cover the other 95%,

Public Service Director Chris Ludle said the city’s request for a grant could be funded in part or in full, and while state funding is limited, “if we don’t apply, there’s no chance to get it.”

The second project, estimated at $3.73 million, will be covered entirely by the Federal Aviation Administration, and includes a reconfiguration of one of the airport’s two runways.

“We are going to decouple what they call the 1-19 runway that runs north and south, and by doing that, we’ll be able to open up developable land on the north side and south side of the main runway,” Ludle said. “This runway is only used in a dire emergency, and it hasn’t been used in years.”

Ludle said plans call for keeping the southern part of the runway intact, but separating it from the main runway and adding two 90-degree turns.

“We’ll be able to either build hangars or other development on the south end of the airport, which would enhance the airport altogether,” Ludle said.

Ludle said land on the northwest corner of the traffic circle at Triplett Boulevard and Massillon Road was not able to be developed with any structure higher than 12 feet due to the proximity to the 1-19 runway, so the land has been vacant.

“Once it’s done, it really opens up a lot of opportunities for the City of Akron and the airport’s base of operation,” Ludle said.

Both pieces of legislation passed 11-0, with Ward 5 Councilwoman Tara Samples and Ward 7 Councilman Donnie Kammer absent.

Councilman Rich Swirsky, who filled in Monday for Samples as chair of the Public Service Committee, asked Ludle whether the airport benefits the city economically by attracting businesspeople and industry leaders.

“You’re absolutely right,” Ludle said. “That’s what the airport is doing for us.”

A 2014 economic impact study by the Ohio Department of Transportation estimated that the Akron Fulton Airport, which was renamed in 2018, generates about $11.9 million in economic output, including direct revenue from airport businesses and government agencies, as well as estimates of spending by visitors and the recirculation of revenue. The airport employs about 120 people, with a total payroll of $3.65 million.

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