Northern Minnesota Airport Faces Possible Closure, Seeks Support From Midwest Aviation Community

Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2020 issue

ISLE, MINN. – Membership in the Isle Airport Association has increased to 140 members, the organization had an extremely successful fly-in breakfast this past year, a survey was completed recently that proved positive economic benefit to the Isle area, and the association maintains the airport, so there is little or no expense to the City of Isle. Still, there are those on the city council who want to close the airport.

At a recent meeting between the city, Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics, and the airport association, the issue of tall trees on private property to the south was discussed. An air-easement exists giving the city authority to clear these tall trees, and the State of Minnesota has offered to pay 80 to 90 percent of the cost, with the airport association willing to pay the remainder of the cost.

These trees are the last remaining obstacle for the Isle airport to once again become a “public-use” airport and the State’s offer is dependent on the airport becoming public. The city was also informed of the state funds available for maintaining the airport once public status is granted.

So, this sounds like a no-brainer, right? Wrong! Some city officials are not in favor of the airport. At the conclusion of the meeting, the MnDOT Office of Aeronautics told the city that it must vote to enforce the air-easement and clear the hazardous trees or the State would revoke the airport’s current private airport license and close it.

The city’s opposition to the airport boils down to economics – the city council does not see an economic value to the airport or perhaps elected officials see a more profitable use for the airport land.

As a pilot, whether you currently use the airport or not, are urged to write a letter to the City of Isle expressing your support of the airport for “economic reasons.” The airport is used by local residents and tourists who fly and spend money with local businesses. With a decline in tourism and businesses in the area, due to fishing restrictions on nearby Mille Lacs, the airport does and can play a major role in generating economic development in the area. If the tall trees on the end of the runway is a concern, state that as well in your letter.

Mail your letter to:
City of Isle
P.O. Box 427
Isle MN 56342

The city council will vote whether to keep the airport or close it at its April 14th meeting. Dave Retka of the Isle Airport Association is leading the save the airport campaign.

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