Capital Improvement Projects for Morgantown Municipal Airport Debated at City Council Meeting

25 Sep

The Morgantown City Council, on September 19, 2017, discussed the progress of the capital improvement projects at the Morgantown Municipal Airport. The public hearing surrounding this issue was for the ordinance authorizing an agreement with RSA Flight Training leasing office space at the Morgantown Municipal Airport. This office space that will be leased will be able to lease for $1,000 the first year, $1,200 the second and $1,400 the third and final year of the lease.

The Morgantown Municipal Airport has been undergoing a huge change this past year to increase fuel sales, provide space for leasing and most importantly, allow commercial flights. According to the Morgantown city manager Paul Brake, the development of the airport will be “the most significant economic development to ever happen in this city.”

“The runway extension will add 1,400 feet not only to the runway, but to the taxiway that would parallel that and that would enable larger corporate jets,” Brake added.

The biggest debate surrounding this improvement project is an argument given by James Giuliani, a property owner and landlord in Morgantown. “Nobody knows more about planning and zoning more than me. We need to quit squandering opportunities.”

The root of Giuliani’s frustration is that out of all of the opportunities that the city of Morgantown has been given, things only get done when West Virginia University is behind it and will benefit in return. “The board is dominated by WVU. What they want, they get,” said Giuliani.

What I do understand with Giuliani’s argument is that it is frustrating that WVU can get legislature passed easier than any other person or group in Morgantown especially when the university is taking away customers from small businesses and and non-university-owned housing with some of this development.

“University Place was done secretly [by the university],” said Giuliani about a university-owned tax-exempt housing complex that took away upwards of hundreds of customers (university students) without warning. He wishes that things would be updated and made better for the community of Morgantown without WVU students being the sole benefiters.

Without the help of the university, though, small businesses wouldn’t thrive, Morgantown wouldn’t be the most populated area in the state on football game days and most townies wouldn’t have jobs to support themselves and their native families.

Rachel L. Fetty, Morgantown city council’s first ward, responded to Giuliani’s argument about the airport, “We’ve never gotten four million dollar issues done for someone. He’ll never be happy.”

I believe that the updated airport hangars, which are said to be opening and available for leasing on October 4th and the extended runway, will be a great addition to Morgantown and a huge boost to our economy. Giuliani’s argument towards the council, to me, seemed to come out of anger that this project has just now begun when it could have been in progress years ago. He spoke of many missed opportunities and I believe that now Morgantown and the municipal airport have gotten this one right and will see great success in adding commercial flights and leasing spaces at the airport.

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