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Editorial: City should seek a new solution on terminal

The city of Willmar suffered another setback this week in its plans to develop the old airport into a new industrial park.

The keeper of the National Register of Historic Places has ruled that the old terminal on the former airport land is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

This does not mean the terminal will be put on the National Register of Historic Places, just that it is eligible for a possible listing.

The city's industrial park efforts now remains in limbo, as the Federal Aviation Administration will not release the old airport land until the terminal's historical issue is resolved.

Unfortunately, this entire historical issue arose following local interest in using the terminal for a possible military museum. However, this interest quickly evaporated once the poor condition for the terminal building was clearly understood.

In addition, the intention of new Willmar Mayor Frank Yanish to resolve this airport land situation early in his administration has not come to fruition as he has discovered the complexities of government processes sometimes take time.

City officials now have a couple of options:

- Continue to fight the terminal's historic listing.

- Find a way to recognize and preserve the terminal's historical significance that the state will agree to.

The next step for Willmar should be to meet with the appropriate state historic officials and seek a suitable way to recognize the historical significance of the terminal building to the history of the late John L. Rice, the Willmar Airport and aviation development in the region.

The sooner a resolution is found for this historical issue, the quicker Willmar can get on with the development of the airport industrial park.