Future Of Spirit Lake Airport May Hinge On Some Trees

Wed 6-13-2018

(Okoboji)-- The future of the Spirit Lake Airport, located in the city of Okoboji, could now hinge on some trees. Bruce Smith, who represents the city of Okoboji on the Dickinson County Airport Authority, informed the Okoboji City Council Tuesday of an inspection of the runway last October by the Aeronautics division of the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Smith says it was determined 11 trees south of the airport have grown into the flight path and either need to be removed or topped. While most of the trees are in Spier Park, which the city owns, one is on private property. Smith said the options regarding those trees is very limited if the airport is to stay in operation. He says future funding for the airport would be in jeopardy and even worse, the airport's certification could be revoked if nothing is done with the trees...Airport Trees01 

"If they reject it basically it would become a private airport, probably is what it would be if it was continued to operate. So we would lose all of our funding. You know the D.O.T actually has been very helpful. They paid, I think it was 75 percent of the overlay on the runway. They paid for 75 percent of the lighting, which we got a grant on both those items and there were some other grants that they did."

Councilman Jim Delperdang expressed his concern over possible impacts on the private property owner...Airport Trees02 

"We can control what's on the park. I can't control the tree that's on private property. I think that's between the Airport Authority and the private homeowner. I don't know if the city needs to get involved in that decision."

The council directed the Airport Authority to enter into discussions with the private property owner and instructed city staff to get quotes on topping the trees on city property for consideration at an upcoming meeting.

Smith told the council the state would likely cover up to 85 percent of the cost to trim or remove the trees, with the Airport Authority covering the remainder.

Even though the airport is in the city of Okoboji, the city of Spirit Lake owns the land where it's located while the Dickinson County Airport Authority is in charge of its operations.