Grand Marais/Cook County Airport begin master plan and expansion discussions
Rodney Roy

Grand Marais/Cook County Airport begin master plan and expansion discussions

It has been a busy couple of months at the Grand Marais/Cook County Airport. The airport advisory commission welcomed three new members, established an ordinance, and hosted a master plan kick-off meeting, among other things.

The commission officially welcomed the three new members at the July 21 meeting. The two regular members are Tim Nelson and Tyler Howell. In addition, Michael Gieskeke joined as an alternate member. Each member brings extensive aviation and air traffic control experience to the commission. 

“They come at it from a different point of view, from pilots, the land services aspect, and planning and zoning and so forth,” said John Barton, chairman of the airport advisory commission. 

In addition to welcoming new members to the commission during the July 21 meeting, the airport adopted an ordinance. 

“Up to this point, we haven’t had an ordinance for the airport,” Barton said. He explained that not having an ordinance presents liability issues for the county if something were to happen. Barton added, “It’s important for us going forward.”

While the new ordinance covers general rules and regulations, it also includes speed limits, hunting on airport land, drone activity, and hangar leases. In addition, the ordinance provides the airport with foundational rules as they look toward future expansion plans. 

“We’re looking at the next 20 years,” Barton said. “We’re really happy that we do have confirmation that we got the over $500,000 project underway for a master plan.”

During the July 21 meeting, the airport commission announced a federal master plan grant. While the final numbers are not finalized, Barton said, “It looks like 5% will also be covered by the state, leaving only a 5% county match.”

Barton explained that the grant would help the airport to survey and assess airport infrastructure, current assets, and improvements needed for the next 20 years. While the airport has already identified a long list of required improvements, Barton said that a potential crosswind runway, relocating the automatic weather collection equipment, and upgrading the storage facilities and seaplane dock are at the top of the list. 

Before further planning takes place, the airport advisory commission will form a master plan advisory committee to discuss and review all plans. “This will be a fairly large group. It will include someone from the FAA in the state aeronautics department, but then representatives of the county,” said Barton. 

The July 21 agenda also included the discussion of a prospective new hangar. The hangar would be capable of housing one or two small business jets or turboprop aircraft. Barton said they are in the beginning stages of the conversation. “It’s a development that we might see in the future.”

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with John Barton, chairman of the airport advisory commission, for an update on the Grand Marais/Cook County airport. Audio from the interview is below.