Blaine Airport Faces Closure

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In a 4-3 vote, the Blaine, Wash., city council voted last month to close the local airport, but supporters are continuing to try and save it. Although the same council voted in October to keep the facility open, according to AOPA, they wanted the FAA to kick in the full $16 million needed for improvements all at once. AOPA says that was an unrealistic request. In any case, the FAA only came up with $500,000, and the gavel came down on the airport at a meeting Feb. 26. And since the airport has never used federal money, an important hammer often used to protect airports from predatory developers and indifferent city councils is not available. When the FAA doles out airport improvement money it always comes with the requirement that the airport remain open to the public for at least 20 years or the money has to be paid back. AOPA is hoping that Washington State will feel the same way about the money itís invested there. The 34-acre site is worth about $5.7 million but grant repayment, compensation to leaseholders and potential lawsuits could eat up most of it, according to city lawyer Jon Sitkin.