The Tourism Department has been asking to have the airport shuttered since 2006 and will continue to seek closure, said department spokeswoman Leslie Blair. The department wants to use the runway area to develop a new entrance to the golf course. A project to redevelop Lake Murray Lodge, at a cost of up to $15 million, is getting under way and is expected to wrap up in 2015.
Tourism workers already shuttle visitors to the lodge from two nearby airports: Ardmore Municipal Airport, about 26 miles away, or Ardmore Downtown Executive Airport, just 7 miles north.
Claudia Conner, deputy director and general counsel at the Tourism Department, told commissioners at the meeting that the airport is rarely used — one landing a month, and fewer in winter. Usage statistics aren't kept at the airport because there is no air traffic control tower.
Nor is there electricity, so aircraft can't land at night. Conner called the airstrip “an eyesore.”
Commission staff recently reviewed all airports under their jurisdiction and found that to increase demand at Lake Murray airport, the runway would have to be extended beyond its current 2,500 feet, but a paved road on one end and a terrain drop-off make that cost-prohibitive. Also, the pavement is nearing the end of its useful life. And the public is better served by Ardmore Downtown Executive Airport's jet-capable runway, Bird said.
Still, private pilots and others wrote in support of retaining the airport.
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System drops lone airport
At its meeting Thursday, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission considered removing three general aviation airports from the Oklahoma Airport System. The move would make the airports ineligible for state funding. Considered were: Westport Airport, Pawnee Municipal Airport and Tenkiller Lake Airpark. Commissioners voted to remove Pawnee Municipal Airport from the system; the other two