Friends of Park Township Airport summary
Park Township Board Closes Airport after Inflated Millage Fails
2019 and 2020 were very sad years for the Park Township Airport, established in 1937 and closed by township trustees in 2020. An minority activist anti-airport group with sympathetic trustees with a similar agenda carefully crafted a way to close the airport without public backlash. The township voted to form a Vision Committee of citizens to create a plan for the airport and its property to better serve the greater twp population. After 18 months of work resulting in an innovative leading edge plan, it was never reviewed by the twp trustees, never presented to the public and never discussed in a township meeting. Rather than discuss it the township worked with a nationally known polling company to conduct phone and internet surveys about the plan, widely unknown by residents. The trustees were shocked by the favorable survey response of residents to the Vision plan and the airport itself. A clear majority of residents surveyed wanted the airport and wanted further investigation into the Vision plan. The trustees, seeing the public support were now backed into a corner. If they discussed the Vision plan/airport in public, there would be support for it. This could become an election issue for the trustees and a risk to their reelection. There was a way out. The trustees voted to put a millage on the primary ballot in March of 2020 solely about the airport. The March vote would take the spotlight off the issue for trustee/supervisor elections later in the year. The township had spent literally nothing on the airport for decades, while volunteers, hangar rent, fuel sales, event fees, and donations supported operating costs at essentially breakeven for those same decades. The township-ignored but needed capital improvements for the runway and some of the buildings were a way for the trustees to justify a millage. In a clever move, the trustees, with their anti-airport twp manager, created a greatly inflated millage, using the most expensive costs possible for fixing all of the last 30 years’ township negligence of the airport. They crafted a more than $2 million millage which they knew would surely fail. The public was never told that the airport’s future hung in the balance of the vote. It was an easy majority no vote. After the results were in, the township trustees pronounced “the voters have spoken and do not support the airport”. An easy way to avoid responsibility for the airport’s condition and lack of funding for 30 years. The trustees also reneged on another pre-vote commitment and essentially banned all aviation and then announced the complete closure of the airport in August 2020. Any backlash from residents would be met with “This was not the trustees decision…the voters said they won’t support the airport”. The majority of twp residents enjoyed and used the airport and understood its historical value. The trustees went against the majority wishes, which were validated by their own surveys, and instead created an indirect way to close the airport without personal backlash. Disgraceful, deceitful, disgusting, and despicable. Holland has lost an important part of its history. Remember what happened when votes are cast in August and November of 2020.
FOPTA information presented during the millage campaign:
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