Yakima aims to spark economy by assuming airport from county

Yakima aims to spark economy by assuming airport from county »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash-- Yakima county is willing to give its split share of the airport to the city.

Officials on both sides admit the airport won't succeed without a sole owner.

City manager, Tony O'Rourke, says revitalizing the airport could put Yakima on the map. He argues more people would chose to fly in and out of here, if the facility was improved. He also believes surrounding land could be developed for private and commercial use.

KIMA asked county commissioners what it would cost for Yakima to assume the airport.

They say it's too early to tell, but it seems the county might be willing to give it away.

"I don't want to speak for the commissioners, certainly, or for the negotiations," said County Commissioner, Rand Elliot. "I don't know if there's going to be money involved or not."

Folks around town have mixed opinions about the idea.

"I don't know why they shouldn't. It's going to keep the money here and not down the Tri-Cities or wherever it goes," said a Yakima woman.

"Anything that would benefit Yakima, I think would be good," said another.

"Economic development and tax revenue is always good for the city and the county, but there's always a concern when you're spending tax dollars," said a Selah man.

City council also has concerns.

Council Member Kathy Coffey says it could be bad if the city makes decisions too quickly.

"We're going to be responsible for all the money that's lost, if we lose money. Which, I think we will," Coffey said.

The city manager says only 1-in-4 Yakima residents even use the airport. He thinks attracting more locals alone could translate to success.

But only time will tell if it's really the ticket to economic improvement in the area.

The city will hold a study session in January, as well as a public meeting.

The county says if all goes well, negotiations could wrap up within a few months.