by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG- Does Huerfano County need an airport if the location stands in the way of a wind farm development? Larry Mapes and Todd Potts said if the FAA requirements at the airport in Walsenburg remain in place, it will kill the wind farm project they have proposed. Mapes said he checked on taxes with a wind farm in the Lamar area and the county receives $5,000 per megawatt produced. The Mapes/Potts wind farm proposal would produce 200 megawatts annually or about 1 million dollars. They contend that the money they would bring in for taxes would be more beneficial than the airport.
Huerfano County Commissioner, Roger Cain said consideration could be given to closing the airport or having it moved. Cain said, “We don’t want to close the airport and then have nothing happen.” Mapes feels that the developers could be interested in beginning the project later this year.
County Administrator, John Galusha, said the airport could be relocated for about 10 million dollars. He wondered if developers would consider paying to relocate the airport? Mapes doesn’t know the answer.
Mapes and Potts wondered how many of the planes stored in hangers at the Walsenburg Airport were actually owned by Huerfano County residents?
The Commissioners didn’t know the answer to that question.
Both sides are to gather more information and discuss the issue in the near future. If the airport was closed, the County would have to pay back money to the federal government for improvements made to the facility.