The Future of Weslaco Mid Valley Airport Uncertain

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 8:08am

WESLACO - The City of Weslaco is taking action on the future of Mid Valley Airport.

No decisions have been made yet, but the local aviation community is worried the city isn't going to make the best decision for the airport's future.

News Center 23 Reporter Erin Murray tells us more.

It's been called the gem of the valley. All it needs is a little polish. The Mid Valley Airport in Weslaco is getting ready to see some changes in the near future. And some of the current pilots feel it has a huge amount of potential.

"Oh huge, the location, the size, the lack of complexity meets the need that many people are looking for," said Donald Schwanke, Pilot and Hanger Owner at Mid Valley Airport.

The pilots and the City of Weslaco said Mid Valley Airport is the busiest general aviation airport in the Valley. It's run through an enterprise fund within the City of Weslaco. Meaning while revenue is generated by the airport, the city does subsidize some of the cost. And with a tough economy and tight budget, Weslaco is looking for a new way to expand and help the airport bring in more money.

"The city's plans are to privatize the FBO (Fixed Based Operator) or possibly give it to the EDC (Economic Development Corporation), which is not something I support. This airport belongs to the people of Weslaco. The EDC is not a fair representative of them, they are an appointed board rather than elected," said Mike Baker, Flight School Pilot.

But the City of Weslaco said the EDC wouldn't have such a strong hold over airport operations.

"There is no plan of having the EDC take over the management of the airport. That has not been discussed and I just want to dispel that. I think the EDC would be coming in and investing in facilities," said Leo Olivares, Weslaco City Manager.

There are both pros and cons to having an FBO come in or letting the EDC take a share in the airport. But either way, many of the pilots would still prefer an FBO.

"I support private enterprise, my business stands on it's own two feet and make ends meet. But, we'll see if they will open it up to bids, we will see what happens, the future is bright here," said Baker.

The airport does have a federal inspection station operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and in a few months the air-strip will be extended.

The future of the airport has been a more recent topic, evolving over the past few months. But even with this short amount of time, Weslaco does say they will be making a decision within the next two to three months on how the airport will be changing.

The decision will be made by the City of Weslaco and the EDC.  

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