Citizens' Group Lands Purchase of Festus Airport

In a unanimous decision, the Festus City Council agreed last night to sell its municipal airport to an investor group that plans to expand the facility's runway while also creating a mixed-use development on the property. The group of nearly 50 investors, calling themselves Citizens for Airport Economic Expansion (CAEE), won the purchase with a bid of $2,275,000. The airport was recently appraised at slightly less than that amount.

The lone other bidder for the property was Wing Enterprises, which last year won a contract to build an iron-ore smelter in nearby Crystal City. Wings has not disclosed what it planned to do with the airport, but many Jefferson County residents speculated that it would be used to provide access from the smelter to Interstate 55.

tomkerr.jpgTom Kerr, one of the leaders of the CAEE group, says he began pursuing the 60-acre airport a year ago to accompany the sports and recreation complex he's planning to building in and around the sand mines in Crystal City. "The airport will provide us with parking for the sports center as well as recreation opportunities such as ball fields," says Kerr. "We're also going to expand the runway from 2,000 feet to 5,000. Our group thinks its very important to keep an airport in Jefferson County." (Photo: Tom Kerr inside one of his sand mines.)

In related news, Kerr tell Riverfront Times he hopes to finish a concert venue on the site of his sand mines by spring. "We're looking to have as many as twenty events this summer and we're talking big acts, too."

-- Chad Garrison

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