Thursday, January 28, 2016

Benton, Franklin County, Illinois: Leaders look at relocating airport

BENTON -- Benton city leaders are looking at a new home for the airport. 

The idea of moving it has come up, because of future plans for the property it now sits on.  

The area west of Interstate 57 has been home to the Benton Airport since 1945.

"We have a fair bit of commercial traffic in and out of the airport," said airport board chairman Mike Wyant.

He said attorney's, business owners, and even SIU aviation students make use of the city's airstrip.    

"They had a pretty good airport club out there but of course time takes care of things like that and I think the use of the airport is probably down a tad bit," added Mayor Fred Kondritz.

Over the years Kondritz has seen its use decline and now would like to develop the land it sits on.

"We want to keep the airport, but I also want to relocate it to a different area because it's right in the middle of our development and that's the reason that the issue has come up."

He calls the area prime for economic growth, welcoming retail and other types of businesses. Want agreed and is in favor of move.         

"The location for the land is obviously very visible from the interstate highway and there's potential uses for the land that might be better for Benton," Wyant.

But to use that land Kondritz needs to find a new place for the airport.

"It's not like we're locating the new airport or a different airstrip miles away. We'll be locating it a mile or two away."

Even if the town gets no help from state or federal funding, Kondritz and Wyant hopes the move would benefit all.

"I think the cost would fall on the Benton tax payers to move it," said Wyant.

Kondritz said he plans to speak with the city's attorney to lobby state representatives. He's also spoken with community members about concerns. He said his ultimate goal is help the growth of Benton.

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