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Mayoral candidates pitch visions for Ogden-Hinckley Airport

By Standard-Examiner staff - | Aug 11, 2023

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

The Ogden-Hinckley Airport, pictured Friday, Aug. 11, 2023.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of six questions posed to Ogden’s seven mayoral candidates.

OGDEN — The future of Ogden-Hinckley Airport is on the table during this year’s election.

From questions over hangar leasing practices to the recent loss of commercial airline service, many are wondering how to keep the airport viable for years to come. That’s why the Standard-Examiner recently asked candidates: What is your vision for the future of the Ogden-Hinckley Airport?

The following responses are in the candidates’ own words.

Chris Barragan

“My vision for the Ogden-Hinckley Airport is to work closely with the amazing tenants that for decades have made the airport a success. I want the city to reestablish trust with these tenants who have worked to build an amazing airport that recruits innovative companies. I believe that private as well as commercial travel through Ogden is what makes our city attractive to those inside and outside of Utah.”

Bart Blair

“My vision is to develop a viable strategic plan that creates a positive environment for our private hanger and plane owners, allows for more business activity like flight schools, is financially independent, and allows us the opportunity and ability to partner with Hill Air Force Base by servicing and maintaining their aircrafts. We are very fortunate to have an airport within our city. A successful airport benefits us all and provides more opportunities for our residents.”

Angel Castillo

“I’ve been supportive of the ORAA since 2019, when Ogden City decided to deny airport hanger owners their 5th Amendment right (Takings Clause) ‘Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.’

“Reviewing the airport financials, the city isn’t doing a great job of managing what should be a county asset. I support (as does Weber County and Roy City) forming a Municipal Airport Authority, following state guidelines for operations. This spreads operating costs risks/shares successes with surrounding communities.

“If we wish to grow aerospace, light industrial, FBOs and train pilots (there is a national shortage), a MAA opens up federal/state/FAA funding. This will allow existing airport stakeholders, surrounding communities, AND Ogden City seats at the table as we grow collectively.”

Jon Greiner

“As the Airport Manager, in 2014, I approached the Utah Legislature, requested and received 300 thousand dollars for a feasibility grant to look at the airport’s potential. I followed this up in 2017 with a 500 thousand dollar grant request to the FAA for funding of a 20 year Master Plan. That plan, in 2018-19, along with concerned citizens, airport users, the new airport manager, myself and Mayor Dandoy from Roy was to provide a vision for the future. A vision for a two tiered airport with expansion for Commercial Aviation and retention of the General Aviation component. From this, the city has created a CRA district with a RDA oversight from the City Council for future opportunities to reach the goals of that Master Plan.”

Taylor Knuth

“My vision for the future of the Ogden-Hinckley Airport is to transform it into a regional transportation hub that maximizes benefits while ensuring that the fiscal liabilities of the airport are not subsidized by our residents. To achieve this, we must continue to forge a strong partnership with Hill Air Force Base, given its proximity and significant presence to Ogden.

“By working together and providing support, we can maximize the benefits for our residents while fostering a mutually beneficial relationship. Additionally, I want to attain self-sufficiency for the airport operations, ensuring that financial resources are managed efficiently and responsibly. It is important to prioritize the utilization of the airport by as many residents as possible while maintaining fiscal sustainability of this valuable community asset.”

Oscar Mata

“The Ogden-Hinckley Airport, while not a hub for long-term commercial service, has great potential as Northern Utah’s primary flight training center. Instead of spending taxpayer money on legal battles with pilots, the city should foster this established relationship. By partnering with a commercial airline, we can leverage the airport’s resources to train Utah’s upcoming generation of pilots. Amidst pilot shortages, this strategy not only fulfills a need but also creates a pathway for Ogden residents toward rewarding careers in aviation.”

Ben Nadolski

“While the airport boasts untapped potential for our city, the current approach isn’t working. As Mayor, I would direct a full review and update of our airport master plan and recodification of our Title 8 ordinance. There are years of hard feelings and mistrust between the administration and numerous airport stakeholders, so there is a legitimate need and opportunity for growth with fresh voices at the table who can facilitate discussions and move beyond past disagreements and litigation. This will help us begin to build trust and an agreed upon plan that works for everyone. I envision that this could even include developing a broader partnership through an airport authority with participation from neighboring cities and counties.”


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