BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
The Put-in-Bay Airport is a small facility with a 2,870-foot runway perched on the south end of South Bass Island, and its terminal facility is in need of renovations. To make that happen, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stepped in recently to award the Put-in-Bay Township Port Authority a total of $1.9 million for the project.
The Port Authority plans to begin accepting bids for the terminal renovation this spring and begin construction in the fall. To make it a busy summer of island construction, there will also be major construction to protect and enhance the iconic Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial on the north side of South Bass Island.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo have announced that the Put-in-Bay Airport award will fund a portion of the project to replace the terminal building. Put-in-Bay officials say the renovated facility will be a single-story terminal building that is approximately 2,500 square feet. It will include a public area, baggage room, mechanical room and two restrooms.
“Ohio airports are vital infrastructure supporting travel and commerce in our state,” Brown said. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this investment will enhance safety and operations at the Put-in-Bay Airport and improve travel for area residents and businesses.”
The Airport Terminal Program was made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Brown helped write and pass.
Much of the daily airport traffic to Put-in-Bay is to bring a wide variety of small goods and visitors to the island. From spring through fall the Miller Boat Line ferries are in operation, which bring residents, tourists, vehicles and large service and supply trucks to the island. That includes the glamorous new The Mary Ann Market, the fifth and largest vessel in the Miller Ferry fleet. Its capacity is 600 passengers and approximately 28 vehicles.
There are also air strips on Middle Bass and North Bass islands, Kelleys Island and a private air strip on Rattlesnake Island. Canada’s Pelee Island Airport in the Ontario waters of Lake Erie is only 17 air miles northeast of the Put-in-Bay Airport.
Griffing Airlines is based at the Erie-Ottawa International Airport in Port Clinton, where there is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection station, maintains flights to Put-in-Bay, and is a favorite of ice anglers in winter who are eager to catch popular Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch.
The National Park Service has begun a huge amount of construction to improve the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial that started last year and will continue this year and in 2024.
Workers began a $20 renovation of the seawalls protecting Perry’s Monument last year and will continue this year. Ready to begin in 2023 is a two-year, $25 million restoration that will restore the structure that supports the upper plaza of Perry’s Monument.
This project will address critical structural degradation, make the restrooms and plaza spaces compliant with current accessibility standards, update building utility systems to meet current demands, and address condensation issues under the plaza and within the column. Historic materials will be reused to retain the character of the plaza. The surrounding parking and sidewalks will also be updated to improve visitor access to the memorial.
The upper plaza project is being financed through the Great American Outdoors Act’s (GAOA) National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund.