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Editorial: Mitigation is key for old airport terminal

The city of Willmar and the State Historic Preservation Office are at odds over the future of the old Willmar Airport terminal.

In other words, the State Historic Preservation Office has not yet been satisfied. Accomplishing that goal is not always an easy task.

We all agree that historic preservation is important. However, preservation at all costs can be harmful to current and future economic development.

The city is seeking to gain release ofthe former airport terminal building and adjacent 4.5 acres from the Federal Aviation Administration. This move would help complete the first phase of the former airport redevelopment plan.

The city already has a buyer -- Bergh's Fabricating -- for the terminal property for a sale price of $200,000. This sale would enable payback of 25 percent of the $800,000 the city owes the state for former airport development.

A consultant and the state preservation office have determined that the terminal building and the building area are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The question is how to address that eligibility.

- Mitigate the historic value by recording the site through photography, video or other means. This is the city's preference.

- The state hopes to attach a historic easement on the terminal area in order to force preserve the terminal building and property.

We agree with the city and encourage a mitigation solution for this site be found. There is interest in the current form of the terminal building, which may have outlived its usefulness.

Imposing an easement on the city and any future owner of the terminal building and surrounding area would restrict current and future development of the site. This would not be a good step.

We hope the city can work out a wise and useful mitigation plan with the state, which will successfully address the historic preservation issue and allow for future development of this site.