Council saves Grafton aerodrome
THE South Grafton aerodrome will remain open for at least the next 10 years.
There were fears it would be closed.
A four-fold rent hike by the Department of Lands earlier this year had thrown the aerodrome's future into doubt.
However, Clarence Valley Council has negotiated a new, 10-year lease for the site with the State Government.
Aerodrome committee chairman Ken Dawes said he was 'over the moon' with the aerodrome's new lease.
In an effort to absorb the higher rent worth $5500 this financial year council and the aerodrome's managers had to re-organise the aerodrome's finances.
Given the aerodrome is home to just 32 regular users, council was not prepared to bail it out with ratepayer funds.
But despite a relatively small number of recreational users, Mr Dawes said the airport was important to the wider Clarence Valley.
He said the aerodrome served not just recreational flyers but also emergency services crews responding to fires and floods, as well as hospital crews, without them having to travel out to Grafton Airport.
While he acknowledged the committee was 'pretty close' to losing the aerodrome, he said the new financial structure would ensure management covered the increased rent without relying on ratepayers.
“In the past we had our hands tied, but we have put together a workable budget,” he said.