Regionalization considered for DeKalb-Taylor Airport

By Mitchell Spence

The city is considering regionalizing the DeKalb-Taylor Municipal Airport to draw in more commercial businesses.

There has been talk of increasing the area the airport services and drawing more business to it, said 5th Ward Alderman Ronald Naylor. Naylor said DeKalb is the primary supporter and financier of the Municipal Airport, 3232 Pleasant St. Naylor said the regionalization would make the airport more economically attractive to businesses.

Naylor said regionalization would mean the airport would receive financial support from all the communities the airport reaches in the county instead of being mainly supported by DeKalb.

“The plan is to expand the exposure of the airport for business purposes,” Naylor said. “We want to pursue the establishment of a regional airport that has a regional airport authority with taxing power and is elected from all the represented communities.”

The airport will need careful planning and research before going forward with regionalization, said Mayor John Rey. Rey said the airport has already started upgrading so it can support charter passenger services to be used by NIU Athletics.

“We know the airport returns $10.7 million a year,” Rey said. The regionalization is not something “to be done casually. It should be done after thorough study.”

Rey said the biggest complaint he has heard is other communities do not want to pay for the airport.

“Today they can receive the full service at the behest of DeKalb paying for the services. I don’t think that’s fair for them to benefit but not pay for the airport operations,” Rey said.

Athletics use

Naylor said the regionalization would benefit NIU as planes could transport athletic teams. For now, NIU Athletics must travel to and from larger airports in Chicago and Rockford.

“It could allow some smaller passenger plane types to fly in and out to benefit the university,” Naylor said. “I think promoting and marketing [the airport] and increasing the usage of the airport, particularly commercial traffic, that’s what brings in the larger aircraft and the larger receipts.”

NIU Athletics is keeping students in mind when thinking about utilizing the airport for transporting teams to sporting events out of state, said Donna Turner, associate athletic director for communications.

“Obviously the airport here has the capacity to be used by our teams,” Turner said. “It would cut a couple hours off travel time for student athletes. If you can cut time off of their schedule that would be a great thing.”