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Letter: Silver Bay needs its airport

I feel that the city of Silver Bay was not being totally forthright with you on the need for the airport's existence ("Silver Bay considers options for airport," June 15 News-Chronicle).

They/you mentioned a couple of times that only two Silver Bay residents own airplanes at the airport. That may be true, I don't know, but that is not the only function of the airport.

I have utilized the Silver Bay Airport several times in the past two years as an alternative to the Grand Marais airport. While the Grand Marais airport was being reconstructed, several aircraft were utilizing Silver Bay Airport as the alternate.

I have considered hangering my aircraft in Silver Bay, but was dissuaded by the overall lack of upkeep shown to the airport. (Grass growing through the runway and ramp, no fuel, limited lighting and security.)

I thought that when the new arrivals and departures building went up, things were turning around. False hope, as I now know from your article, that was viewed by the city in a negative light and didn't change their overall view of our (everybody's) Silver Bay Airport.

These small airports play a larger role in the environments where they are placed. Is it the contention that the Silver Bay Airport doesn't serve the local mining operations? That would seem to me to be the largest employer of the area. Hospitality? Recreational?

Silver Bay cannot say tourism isn't an incentive to keep the airport open. I have used the airport at least 10 times in the last two years, and we usually stop by Northwoods or Zups or get a milkshake or pizza.

Grand Marais, (Tofte, now closed), Silver Bay (currently closed) and Two Harbors have been the only North Shore airports. If weather prevents a landing at Grand Marais, or there's mechanical trouble, the nearest alternate airport is now Two Harbors. Phew — that's a long way to sweat out a limping aircraft.

Let's find a solution to keep this Silver Bay Airport open.

Robert R. Connelly

Schroeder/Marine on St. Croix, Minn.