OGDEN — A proposal to help protect the old tower at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport has been shot down, after City Council sentiment suggested it would hamper efforts to bring the airport out of financial insolvency.
The city administration had included language in a developing airport master plan that would have recommended the 1940s-built terminal building and control tower at the airport be placed on two different historical registers.
Ogden City Deputy Planning Manager Clinton Spencer previously told the council the buildings feature characteristics from the late 1940s Art Moderne architectural style and placing them on local and national historic registers ties in with the city’s stated philosophy of preserving historic architecture when feasible.
Placement on the Ogden City Register of Historic Places would provide significant protection, Spencer said, safeguarding the buildings from certain kinds of development, requiring that any significant changes, including demolition, be approved by the Ogden City Landmarks Commission. The designation would also help preserve the buildings and help ensure that any proposed remodeling would maintain its character and historical significance.
But pushback from the council, a chorus that has been led by council member and airport user Rich Hyer, has been resolute.
Deputy City Attorney Mark Stratford said the proposal would not etch in stone that the tower could never be removed or exempt from certain types of redevelopment, but it would require more red tape if the decision was ever made to do those things in the future.
“(The council) would have to look at amending the general plan, depending on what kind of development projects are proposed there,” Stratford said.
Hyer said the move just doesn’t make much sense. The airport has been a financial burden for the city, subsidized by as much as $750,000 per year during the 2010s. The subsidies have been reduced in recent years, but the city still loses about $320,000 per year running the airport, according to council documents.
“What’s the upside to even putting it in the plan?” Hyer. “I still don’t see one, quite frankly.”
Hyer recently toured the tower with Ogden-Hinckley Airport Manager Bryant Garrett, and said the facility is in rough shape.
“It’s not as likely to be a historical treasure as it is to be something good for aviation,” Hyer said. “The airport is there to be an airport. We’ve had a hard time getting the airport into the black — this would only make that worse.”
Ogden Community and Economic Development Director Tom Christopulos said he’s heard a desire from some airport users to preserve the tower, for history’s sake, but the sentiment hasn’t been overwhelming.
“Our view is, either direction we go, it’s going to be under review by the council at some future date anyway,” Christopulos said. “It’s just a question of whether we have to redo the plan or not.”
The city is in the final stages of developing a 20-year master plan for the airport. Garrett said the plan will serve as a guide for continued development, as well as a roadmap to meet requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration to receive federal funding. Bryant said the initiative is the first comprehensive master plan developed for the airport since 1994.
Ogden Council Deputy Director Glenn Symes said the historic preservation proposal will be removed from the plan and the council will vote on the revised version in a few weeks.