Airport deal will pay off for parish

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2008

Chalk up one more for the new Hubbard administration.

Since Bill Hubbard began as the new St. John parish president in January, he promised government would be run like a business, with plenty of action on important projects.

That promise has more than been upheld in the past 10 months, with another important report confirmed this past week by L’Observateur, which learned that the parish and Port of South Louisiana are nearing an agreement for the Port to take over control of the St. John Airport.

Few decisions in the parish could be more clearly needed than this move.

The Port of South Louisiana is the leading public body when it comes to stimulating the economy for the River Region. And they have continued to do it in a big way under the leadership of Executive Director Joel Chaisson Sr.

For many years the idea of the Port managing the airport was discussed, but like so many other things, no final agreement was ever reached by former administrations or parish councils.

Meanwhile, the airport was losing close to $100,000 a year of the taxpayers’ money, and unable to push through the approval for a much-needed runway extension to 5,000 feet.

Now that the Port is on the verge of taking over control of the airport, the work to extend the runway is already moving forward, with an environmental impact study currently being done. Chaisson estimates the new runway can be a reality in no more than 18 months.

Once again it means more tax revenue for the parish, and more jobs for the region.

All it took for this important decision to be made was for Hubbard and Chaisson to hash out the details of the agreement, which they apparently have done.

It just makes sense for the Port to manage our only transportation system coming via air, since they already are luring businesses with the water, rail and interstate system. Additionally, their muscle with our governmental bodies controlling state and federal dollars will only bring about quicker action for those businesses wanting to come to St. John Parish.

Once again, it has proven that the St. John government certainly can be run like a business—and from the continued results, it is apparently a very productive business at that.