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Published: Friday, 4/23/2010

Process begins for renaming Metcalf Field

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A first step has been taken toward renaming Metcalf Field to Toledo Executive Airport.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors yesterday passed a resolution requesting approval from Toledo City Council and the Federal Aviation Administration for the change.

If adopted, the new name will better reflect millions of dollars the port authority has spent on airfield improvements and the nature of the Lake Township airport's flight operations.

Most operations there consist of corporate aviation and private flights, according to the resolution.

"The name Metcalf Field gives the impression to potential users that it is a small, technically deficient, grass-runway airfield," read the recommendation from the port board's airports committee to the full board of directors.

Thomas Metcalf, an aviation pioneer who was Toledo's commissioner of aviation from 1954 to 1960, would continue to be honored by the renaming of its access road to Metcalf Drive.

The resolution was approved without discussion by a 12-0 vote, with Brian Bucher absent.

City Councilman Rob Ludeman, who with colleague Steven Steel brought the idea up with the port authority, said no schedule has been set for considering it, but a committee hearing is likely "so any interested party can be heard."

Carla Firestone, the port authority's communications director, said the process for FAA approval and documentation of a name change is likely to last several months.

The renaming had come before the port board during its March 25 meeting, but was referred back to the airport committee to consider Toledo Metcalf Executive Airport as a renaming alternative to retain reference to Mr. Metcalf.

But Eric Barnum, the owner of Crow Executive Air Inc., which manages the airport and provides fuel, charters, and other aviation services, said the longer name would be so cumbersome as to impair the marketing value of changing it.

After meeting with Mr. Barnum last week, the airport committee agreed.

Metcalf "is a great economic asset to the community, and it needs to be appropriately identified," Mr. Barnum said after the vote.

In the aviation world, executive has become a common term to identify airports used primarily by corporate and private aircraft.

Built originally as Toledo Inter-Continental Airport, the Lake Township airport was renamed Toledo Municipal Airport after commercial aviation moved to the new Toledo Express Airport in 1955.

The airport was renamed again in 1977 in Mr. Metcalf's honor.

While the idea had come up in the past, yesterday marked the first time the port authority voted on changing the name again.

Mr. Barnum said the idea resurfaced during a discussion he had with Matt Sapara, the port authority's director of economic development, and Mr. Steel and Mr. Ludeman.

The two councilmen said they requested the meeting after the renaming idea came up during a council committee meeting.

The committee members saw it as a way to promote a Joint Economic Development District the city and Lake Township established last year around the airport.

"It's got a heck of a lot of development potential, and part of that is branding," Mr. Steel said. The current name, he said, evokes "a little flat space where crop-dusters take off."

Mr. Ludeman predicted his City Council colleagues would be receptive to the name change, while Mr. Metcalf would continue to be recognized by naming the airport's access road after him.

Mr. Metcalf, who died in 1973, and his wife, Edna, who died in 1992, had no children, and officials are unaware of any relatives residing in the Toledo area.

"I don't think it's disrespectful to him [Mr. Metcalf]. It's an evolution that happens," Mr. Barnum said.

"We can appropriately memorialize Mr. Metcalf in the roadway name. We have to move on," Mr. Barnum said.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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