ST. MARYS — The St. Marys Airport will close permanently by July 14.
That’s the timetable established by the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration for the long-awaited announcement of when the airport will close.
Mayor John Morrissey said the city has to follow a number of steps before the airport is closed. They include completing appraisals, providing a 60-day notice to tenants, requiring all aircraft to vacate the airport by July 1 and a 30-day Federal Register Notice of closure by the FAA.
After the airport closes, yellow X’s will be painted on the runways to let aircraft know the airport is not open for landings or takeoffs.
The announcement ends the city’s efforts to permanently close the airport, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Officials at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, home port to a fleet of ballistic missile submarines, said the airport was a safety and security threat after the attacks.
A joint land use study released about two years ago identified the airport as one of the top concerns to Kings Bay.
St. Marys Airport Authority lawyer Jim Stein said he is uncertain what role the authority will play in closing the airport or if the authority will be disbanded after the airport closes.
“The question is what will the authority do,” he said. “We have no idea what our role will be after July 14.”
The city will own the land after the airport closes. City Manager John Holman said a consultant will be hired to determine the best way to redevelop the 280-acre airport site.
Currently, the Department of Defense is reviewing the leases for tenants at the airport, but no compensation has been determined.
The FAA plans to build a replacement airport somewhere in the region. Morrissey said he told FAA officials he wants the new airport built somewhere in Camden County.