Free Flight group may be coming back to Marion after all

The Heart of America Free Flight Association could be back in Marion this summer, thanks to the efforts of many willing to negotiate, according to information presented at the April 5 city council meeting.

?(The airport board) did not want to have a weekly argument back and forth with everyone (about the Free Flight Associ?a?tion),? said Ty Zeiner, airport manager.

As a way of compromise, the Marion Municipal Airport Board met, Zeiner said, and came up with a list of conditions that, if agreed upon by the Free Flight organization, would satisfy their concerns.

?First and foremost,? Zeiner said, ?no vehicles would be allowed beyond the airport parking lot.?

All retrieval of model aircraft would be done by walking. The second issue dealt with the launch area.

Other conditions included liability insurance, providing adequte restroom facilities, and pilot Dick McLinden?s need to have his aircraft readily available at another location while on-call.

Zeiner said that if either the city or the Free Flight organization were willing to pay hangar fees for a minimum of one night in Hillsboro or elsewhere and met all the other conditions, then he believed the airport board would open its facility to the model aircraft enthusiasts.

A potential concern dealt with fields of wheat and having people walking on the crop.

?As one other additional safety measure,? Zeiner said, ?we would mark a yellow ?X? for airplanes trying to land that might not have radios.?

Closing the airport during the event was considered the best and safest option, Zeiner said.

Doug Kjellin, city of Marion Economic Development director, said he was pleased with the conditions.

For the record, he said he felt good about the airport board offering to negotiate.

Kjellin also thanked the board for their time and effort to come together and still let the city host this event.

As for the costs involved to meet the conditions outlined, Kjellin said he would like to summarize what was talked about and leave it with the Free Flight organizers, welcoming them to the city of Marion on certain conditions.

He suggested that the city?s economic development office could also incur the cost of moving McLinden?s plane to another hangar for that weekend.

?I have warm fuzzies with our community pulling together and offering options and solutions instead of being stonewalled,? Kjellin said.

At the March 22 city council meeting, McLinden read a letter opposing any use of the airport facility to host the Free Flight group.

In the letter, the airport board cited several reasons, ranging from Federal Aviation Administration regulations and previous damage to lack of respect and costs associated with closing the airport for two days.

In other business, the council:

? approved the use of its spec building at a cost of $43 per day to Griffin Real Estate & Auction, which is hosting the Brose property auction. The building could be in use for three days. Chuck Maggard, representing Griffin Real Estate, said he would check with sellers and get back to the city on whether this would work out. Another option was to close the 400 block of Hudson for the auction.

? heard from Tony Schafers, a resident, requesting updates on a fence obstructing the view of traffic approaching Hudson Street. Schafers said it was his understanding that if the fence wasn?t moved, the city would get it surveyed and take further action to correct the problem.

Dan Baldwin, city attorney, said he spoke with Marty Fredrickson, streets director, who said a member of the Brose family was working with the city to angle the fence in a satisfactory manner.

? heard a report from Gary Lewis, planning commission chairman.

? approved a resolution supporting Marion Advancement Campaign apply for $250,000 in tax credits.

? approved a public hearing regarding a dangerous structure at 415 N. Fourth. The hearing is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. May 17.

The next city council meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, in council chambers of Marion City Hall, 208 E. Santa Fe.

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