What began in 1935 as an emergency airfield used by mail pilots when conditions for continued flight were unfavorable, continues to evolve as plans move forward for Gardner Municipal Airport to come under city management.
In September, the Gardner council voted to terminate the current form of airport administration and give 90 days notice on hangar leases.
The airport, 129 acres located on Gardner’s west side, has been a safe haven for recreational flyers since 1957 when the non-profit Gardner Airport Association was incorporated. Prior to that, the “Naval Air Station Olathe,” currently New Century Air Center, used Gardner airport for training while New Century was being constructed during the 1940’s.
Gardner Municipal is part of a federal system of airports, and aviation services at the airport include: aircraft storage, fueling and basic airport repair. There are three runways – two turf and an east/west runway that is being paved.
About 100 aircraft are based at the municipal airport, and there is a waiting list for T-hangars – sometimes said to have as many 80 with waits of up to 7-10 years. Some hangars have been subleased.
The council’s decision to terminate the association’s lease came in part due to a 2014 audit that sighted “lack of proper procedures and controls used to initiate, authorize, record and process See CITY, accounting transactions related to accounts payable, accounts receivable, and capital assets.” Further, the auditor’s wrote, “There is also a lack of segregation of duties related to overall accounting functions including cash receipting, deposits and check writing.” Bank statements were not reconciled and reviewed in a timely manner.
There was no mention made of any deliberate wrongdoing in the city staff’s August 10 report clarifying the audit’s findings. However, there was concern that if future audits noted a “significant deficiency” related to the airport regarding internal financial controls it could affect the city’s ability to obtain future grants.