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City votes 5-3 to bless airport expansion plan

Members of the Detroit Lakes City Council and members of the audience felt they needed more information before signing a letter of support for the airport expansion.

But not enough were opposed to stop the council from voting 5-3 to give the go-ahead.

Mayor Larry Buboltz and City Administrator Rich Grabow explained the letter of support didn't necessarily mean the city was planning to do the project, but the letter was part of the process to move forward on finding answers.

"There's a slant that isn't quite accurate on some of these," said Diane McCormack, as she skimmed though the letter. McCormack lives on Long Lake, near the airport.

She suggested tabling the request for support until more people could look at the letter and attend the airport commission meeting.

Neighbor Dave Brainard also expressed his concerns, including the price of the expansion and whether it's worth it.

Alderman Ron Zeman agreed with the cost being too high.

He added that gas sales are down this year, the area is already too crowded with new developments and retail growth and that he wants the airport moved outside the city limits.

"It's absolutely ridiculous that we're doing this," he said.

Alderman James Hannon, too, said he felt there were far too many questions left unanswered.

He said the land should be appraised to see how much the city could profit from selling the land to develop and building the airport elsewhere.

He also expressed concern about secondary costs of the city having to move its spray irrigation and traffic patterns on Airport Road, which would be closed.

"I come down firmly on the side that the airport needs to be moved," he said.

Alderman Leonard Heltemes said he couldn't vote on something he didn't have enough information on and be held accountable to his constituents.

Heltemes, Hannon and Zeman voted against the letter of support. Alderman Bruce Imholte wasn't present for the vote.

The Becker County Board earlier approved the letter of support on a 3-1 vote, with one abstention.