The P. W. Johnson Memorial Airport was a topic of concern at Monday's New Martinsville City Council after city officials reported a July 27 storm damaged the already rundown property, causing a hazard for nearby residents.
According to city building inspector Joe Hanna, there are several hangars at the airport that are in disrepair and either need to be demolished or replaced.
"There are hangars up there that need addressed," Hanna said. "It's a problem and we need to address it."
Photo by Sarah Harmon
Paul Conner addresses New Martinsville City Council about dilapidated structures at the city’s airport while holding a piece of metal he says flew from the airport and struck his home during the July 27 storm. Also pictured, from left, are Mayor N. Keith Nelsen, Councilman Jeff Wright, Councilwoman Kathryn Goddard and Councilman Jeremy Shepherd.
Paul Conner, who lives next to the airport on Park Avenue, illustrated this point at the meeting by bringing in large piece of metal from a damaged airport hangar he said flew 200 yards and struck his home during the storm.
"This could have killed somebody," Conner said. "Something needs to be done. The airport is in shambles. This came through the air and hit my house. ... Something has to be done now, not later."
Conner insisted the city address the problem soon, adding its a danger to the many people walk and ride their bikes in the area.
The subject prompted council members to discuss reestablishing the city's airport authority in order to decide whether to repair or raze the dilapidated airport structures.
According to City Recorder Bonnie Shannon, the city owns the airport, which now houses two ultralights and a plane. According to the terms of city's ownership, Shannon said the city can only own the property as long as it is used for an airport or a park.
If the property is no longer used as an airport or park, the property would go back to the original private owners.
Shannon said the city will begin work to get more members on the airport authority in order to address the problem. In the meantime, the city plans to fasten the metal on the damaged hangars to prevent more accidents.