On a Consent Agenda motion by George Poe and second by David May, Cleveland City Council members Monday voted without opposition to authorize Mayor Tom Rowland to sign a quitclaim deed to transfer the Hardwick Field property to the Municipal Airport Authority.
Favoring the action were Vice Mayor Avery Johnson and Councilmen Bill Estes, Bill Robertson, Poe and May. Council member Bambi Hines was unable to attend either of Monday’s sessions.
Prior to the 4 p.m. vote, Robertson said he has been asked why the city is transferring the Hardwick Field property to the Airport Authority. City Manager Janice Casteel said this has always been a part of the airport agreement — that once the new airport at Tasso and Michigan Avenue roads is completed, the existing Hardwick Field airport will be sold in individual parcels. This includes existing hangars.
The action is also requested by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Aeronautics Division. In the words of Resolution No. 2010-99, “ ... The Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority has committed to the City of Cleveland that once the new airport is open it will proceed to sell Hardwick Field and apply the sale proceeds to the local costs of the new airport.”
Hardwick Field, and its protected air space, comprise about 105 acres. Because of its north Cleveland location, Airport Authority Chairwoman Lynn DeVault told City Council members two weeks ago that the parcels should sell at “handsome” prices.
Total cost of the new airport is about $42 million. The federal share is 38.5 percent, or $16,254,256; the state share is 34.6 percent, or $14,583,296; and the local share, also referred to as “community sharing,” is 26.9 percent or $10 to $11 million. The community sharing portion is divided by $5.3 million in city funding and $5 million in private donations.
“We have intended to do this all along,” Casteel said. “This (proceeds from the Hardwick Field sale) has to go as our local match.”
Asked if she felt Hardwick Field proceeds will fund the city’s entire share, the city manager acknowledged, “We hope the sale will take care of our (city’s) debt ... I can’t say for sure that it will.” The suggestion was even made that Hardwick Field proceeds could actually exceed the city’s committed share for the new airport.
Casteel also pointed to remarks made previously by Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce — that it is difficult to place a value on lost opportunities. She was referring to the cost to the community of major industries and businesses that have stricken Cleveland from their list of location options because of its limited airport facilities. A quality airport improves the marketability of the Cleveland and Bradley County community, she stressed.
As drawn up by city attorney John Kimball, the quitclaim deed authorizes the mayor’s signature as legally binding on behalf of the municipality. It fully describes the perimeters of the Hardwick Field property lines.
The Airport Authority meets in formal session Friday at 9 a.m. in the City Council’s Chambers of the Municipal Building.