CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A Volkswagen plant at the Enterprise South industrial park underscores the reason Cleveland is building a new airport, members of the Municipal Airport Authority said.
For years city officials here said a new general aviation airport is needed to serve industry as well as recreation. The new airport being planned in the Tasso community will have a runway of 5,000 feet or more, compared to 3,300 feet at Hardwick Field.
“The Volkswagen announcement adds additional importance to the work we have been doing,” member Lou Patten said at the authority’s monthly business meeting Friday.
Authority Chairwoman Lynn DeVault added, “The new airport will make us more competitive for the Volkswagen suppliers who will be coming to the area as well.”
The Tasso airport should be finished close to the same time that the VW plant is ready to gear up, authority member Verrill Norwood said.
“A lot of the suppliers are foreign companies, too,” said consultant Mark Paslick, vice president of PDC Consultants LLC. The firm is working with the authority on the new airport.
“And in these days of just-in-time business planning, a local airport that can accommodate larger corporate jets is important,” he said.
“You were not looking so good with the 3,300 foot runway,” Mr. Paslick said.
Ms. DeVault said the new airport project already is on a tight schedule, so the VW announcement isn’t likely to speed it up further. The airport authority is scheduled to make its presentation for the next round of Federal Aviation Administration funding in November.
Mr. Paslick said he expects planning and engineering work to remain on schedule.
Authority members also were told Friday that recreational flying at Hardwick Field may be down somewhat because of higher fuel prices.
Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...