PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Next month, voters in Ottawa County’s Park Township will decide if they want to invest in the township’s 83-year-old airport.
If passed the .185 mill levy would be used to make improvements to the Park Township Airport, including the runway.
On one side of the millage in question are those who like to spend time above the clouds and support the airport.
“It’s part of the ambiance of Park Township. It’s part of what we are,” Pilot and Park Township resident Dan Nally said.
On the other side, are those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground and don’t think it’s a necessary township amenity.
“I feel that we no longer need it,” said Phyllis Lanesey who lives near the airport.
The Park Township Airport, built in 1937, was one of Michigan’s earliest airports. It has a loyal following among flight enthusiasts like Nally.
In 2019, the airstrip and hangars serviced 63 pilots from 19 states, including local pilots trying to avoid the congestion at other local airports.
“I like the airport because it serves a secondary service, compared to West Michigan Regional … West Michigan Regional has a lot of traffic.” Nally said referring to the former Tulip City Airport.
Other activities at the airport include programs for middle and high school students, as well as Civil Air Patrol cadets.
Lanesey lives just east of the airport in the landing pattern for planes.
“There’s maybe another 1/4 miles and all of that is subdivision and trees,” she said pointing to the path that the small planes fly over her house.
With many small aircraft taking off and landing in what’s become an area populated with subdivisions, Lanesey contends that the benefit to taxpayers are few.
“When the truth comes down to it, the tax paying people that use that airport is very minimal,” Lanesey said.
Nally disagrees with Lanesey’s assessment.
“I don’t use the dog park that’s over here. I don’t use the skateboard park,” Nally said. “I don’t use the beaches. But I pay taxes on it and support it.”
If approved, homeowners who pay the average cost of a home in Park Township, a taxable value of $181,816, would pay $33.63 a year for the .185 mill.
Money raised would pay for operations and maintenance, including about $1.4 million in a new runway, taxiway improvements and lighting upgrades over the next ten years.
The township also has plans to create an AirPark on the site, turning portions of the airport into a public venue.
None of the money from the millage, if passed, would be used for that project.