Concerns with noise, safety, flight patterns and a possible expansion of the Kent State University Airport in Stow dominated citizens' comments at the first public meeting on deriving a new master plan for the university-managed airfield.
Nearly 100 people attended the two-hour session Monday night, which featured a brief presentation about the airport itself and the need for a revamped master plan before the meeting was opened up for comments.
Project Manager Aileen Meyer referred to the new master plan process as a chance to give a "fresh perspective" to the realization of the airport's goals of fulfilling the needs of KSU's aviation program while also maintaining a public use airport.
She also emphasized the importance of community input in a new plan.
"This is your first opportunity to tell us what your concerns are and what you'd like to see addressed throughout the planning process," Meyer told the audience at Stow City Hall's Council Chambers.
Dozens of residents jumped at that opportunity, expressing varying degrees of support and resistance to the airport operations themselves.
The bulk of input, however, brought to light numerous concerns and frustrations of residents -- as evidenced by five oversized sheets of paper filled with notes taken down by Meyer posted throughout the meeting.
One pilot and airport user described the airport's facilities as "atrocious" and in need of upgrades.
Multiple residents complained of noise and the frequency of flights. One resident claimed strings of flight students sometimes fly loops that "last, it seems like, forever."
One resident concerned with safety who recalled how one plane conducted an emergency landing on Fishcreek Road in years past called the airfield a "postage stamp floating in an ocean of people."
Another resident cited trust issues with the university. He said it was his impression recommendations compiled in the last master plan written in 2004 and updated in 2006 suggested closing the airport and moving the flight school to the Portage County Regional Airport in Shalersville.
In the meantime, officials have said the academy has actually grown.
"This is not a gateway to our community, it's actually a gateway to hell if it expands," he said.
Community Liaison Group member Roy Howarter said after the meeting he believes moving the flight school to the Portage airport would be a good compromise because it would address issues surrounding students' frequent flights.
"It's better for the airport and better for the flight school," he said. "That's what the 2004 study said."
Visit www.ksuairportplan.com for more information.
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