Tuesday, September 25, 2007

editing the editors, adjusting the attitude

Burke Lakefront Airport isn't going anywhere, so city must make the best of it - an editorial- cleveland.com -- I thought it was an incredibly good piece of news that Frank Jackson was acknowledging the permanent status of Burke Lakefront Airport, acknowledging that the dialogue swirling around it was something that never should have been started. As a development asset, it was never something that could ever be put on the table. I would really like to know who started beating the drum about it in the first place.

Anyway, we have below a PD editorial, which I have included in its entirety, that points up the attitudinal shortcomings of our newspaper's vision of who we are and what capital we have as a city and as a region. This editorial is about as shabby as the PR flak job they tried to pass of as reporting of the abrogation of our voting rights with last sales-tax-hike, the one that starts October 1st.

A far more positive take would be that the builders of Burke created usable land where there had been none prior. They created an asset of value using garbage. They were early-adapter recyclers. They were The Forest City, and they were green, too.

Another positive point is that dealmakers can fly into Burke discreetly, be whisked up to corporate or professional offices where big deals are made, and be taken out to wine and dine in celebration of the closed deal at classy hotels and restaurants before being whisked back down to the field to depart for home. WORTH Magazine has been attentive all this year to how people are using small planes--leased, shared, bought, and so forth.

Yet another positive point is that very few other cities have an asset like this, collocated with the fanciest hotels and the main business district with all the corporate headquarters and big law firms.

Another interesting fact is that this little airport takes the shipping burden off Hopkins and can handle a heck of a lot of courier business from the downtown business district.

Another neat thing is that our airport is nestled right between Edgewater Park and Whiskey Island to the west and Gordon Park and Bratenahl to the east. Really, how much "access" does the PD editorializer want? What about that Stadium thing? We had the chance to redesign the lakefront during the final days of the White administration, and where was the PD when that was all kicking off?

Since the PD's content usually disappears after a while, here is the editorial in all its cheesy, yet resplendent, negativity. See how you would make it more positive, try shucking the Ambrose Bierce pose without becoming Holly Golightly or Mary Poppins. The bold parts are things I think could stand an attitude adjustment, or some backup with facts.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mayor Frank Jackson's announcement that Burke would remain open indefinitely was probably the right decision.

Seventy years ago, when Cleveland's city fathers were looking around for land on which to build a new airport, they made a horrible decision.

Booming business at Cleveland Municipal Airport (now Cleveland Hopkins International Airport) was creating a desperate need for a reliever airport to handle smaller aircraft. So, city officials looked around and settled on the worst possible site - the city's lakefront.

World War II delayed construction, but by 1947, enough waste, garbage and other fill had been piled on the Lake Erie shoreline to open Burke Lakefront Airport, a 480-acre land-grabber that has blocked access to Cleveland's most precious asset ever since.

Almost from the day it opened, Burke has been cited as an example of atrocious land-use policy. But calls for closing Burke have often conveniently ignored the enormous difficulties that would be involved.

Replacing Burke with an airport located more sensibly would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions.

Redirecting light aircraft to Hopkins would risk intolerable delays to the major air carriers so important to the region's economy.

Any move to close Burke would probably meet fierce resistance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

For all of those reasons, Wednesday's announcement by Mayor Frank Jackson that Burke would remain open indefinitely was probably the right decision. Wisely, the mayor also wants to increase development around Burke, an idea that could be facilitated by moving the port and Coast Guard headquarters. Smart development near Burke would not only represent a first, but would be consistent with the long-term lakefront plan advocated by
Jackson's predecessor, Jane Campbell.

But if Burke is to remain, it is essential that it be turned into an honest-to-goodness airport that serves the city's needs - not just a little-used landing strip serving a few dozen corporate jets and student pilots.

Until that changes, Burke will continue to be a complete waste of priceless lakefront land. The burden now falls to Jackson and airport director Ricky Smith to make the best of Burke's bad location by implementing their good ideas.

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