116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The city of Marion is considering appointing a subcommittee to consider the future of Marion Airport — a future that could result in the city taking full ownership of the airport.
The small airport in east Marion is now a public-private partnership.
“This is the only public-private hybrid airport in the entire state, and it’s just not working well, so this group needs to bring those two lenses together and figure out if the city should invest more money and, if so, what should it look like?” council member Steve Jensen said at a Tuesday night council work session.
The city owns the airport runway and fixed base operation building. Only the city-owned portion is eligible for funding and grants from the state and federal government.
LuxAir Aviation manages the facility and also owns the rest of the airport property. LuxAir was formed in 2015 by Genesis Equities owner Jeff Witter and his daughter Hannah Kustes.
The city has a Municipal Airport Committee that oversees the airport’s operations, but council members thought a new subcommittee could recommend next steps for the airport.
“If we were to rewind back to 2014-15,” council members Grant Harper said, “a group like this, had it existed, would’ve painted a more robust picture. This serves a need that has existed for a long time.”
The initial thinking was that the temporary subcommittee would be comprised of two City Council members, two Municipal Airport Committee members, a Marion Enterprise Center business representative or president of the Marion Economic Development Corp., and a representative from Collins Aerospace.
“It could have seven members,” City Manager Ryan Waller said. “These are just ideas and concepts, but we don’t want to box any entity in.”
The council likely will consider establishing the airport visioning subcommittee at a later meeting.
The airport is on the east side of Marion, near the city’s police department and Marion Enterprise Center, in an area seeing rapid development.
It has been in operation since the 1950s. Jan Walton and her husband, Perry, began operating it in 1986 and bought it in 1994. Perry Walton died in 2014. In May 2015, the city bought some of the airport property for $1.67 million, paying twice as much per acre to LuxAir had paid for the property a few hours before.
The airport provides services for small planes, private business travel, air ambulances, flight training, charters, aerial photography and agricultural spraying.
The number of aircraft using the airport has decreased since 2018, partly due to construction of a $1.8 million extension to the north-south runway and also due to derecho damage to airport hangars, according to an HDR Engineering report on the airport.
One need the city and airport users have identified is adding an east-west runway. In 2017, the cost of that runway was estimated at $9 million.
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