AIRLINE passenger service may be iffy at Toledo Express Airport these days, but there should be no doubt now or in the future about the airport s ownership.
Toledo Express was built by an earlier generation of Toledo taxpayers and it should remain under the city s control, notwithstanding the reported private talks between municipal officials and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.
In fact, a good case could be made for an early end to the port authority s management lease on the airport, due to expire in 2029.
The port authority, now beset with its own crisis of leadership, has turned in an uninspired record since 1973, when it took over airport management. Toledo could do no worse, we believe, with its own commissioner of aviation in control.
Yes, the city has severe budget problems, but that s no excuse to solve them in shortsighted fashion by giving up the airport in exchange for a temporary infusion of cash, if indeed that is what the city and port pooh-bahs have in mind.
But who knows what they re up to, since talks on the subject have been held behind closed doors. All we know is that, according to Eric Frankl, the port s director of airports, city and port officials have been discussing several possibilities, including whether the port authority should continue to lease the airport; an outright takeover of the airport by the port, or allowing the airport to revert to city operation.
Lest there be any mistake, it should be known that this newspaper will doggedly oppose any measure that would result in loss of the airport as a city asset.
Toledo has been in a mode of decline for many years, but it is still, and must continue to be, the hub of northwest Ohio. And if the city is to regain its economic footing, which we believe will someday occur, it must never give up the airport and other basic tools for growth.
If the city loses these, it in effect concedes its eventual demise.
Control of city water is a similar asset. A persuasive argument can be made that Toledo has been too quick to sell water to outlying areas, which in turn have sucked the life and jobs out of the city. The same mistake must not be made with the airport or the water plant, for that matter.
Indeed, the mediocre record of the port authority in recent years indicates that any further talks be aimed at returning the airport to city management sooner rather than later. The investigation into the private life of James Hartung, the port board president, provides an ideal opportunity to accomplish the change coincidentally with new leadership at the agency.
The Blade is committed to helping Toledo regain its economic pre-eminence in the region and we believe this goal cannot be accomplished unless the airport remains under city control.