New Airport Or Not, Cardinal Glass Says Its Here To Stay

Despite claims by mayoral candidates that the airport relocation project is key to keeping two major local companies in Portage, at least one major employer Wednesday shrugged off claims it would leave if the airport were not expanded.

A representative for Cardinal Glass said reports were untrue it would consider relocating if the airport move fizzled.

"We do back the airport project, but it is not a concern of whether we stay or go," said Ernest Curley, Cardinal Glass Industries Inc. plant manager. "We like Portage and we are going to stay here."

A forum of mayoral hopefuls Tuesday prompted talk of Cardinal Glass and Saint-Gobain as two companies relying on the airport relocation for their future plans. At a Common Council meeting last month, Mayor Jeff Grothman said that if the plans for a new airport died, two employers told him they would relocate to Dane County.

While officials at Saint-Gobain did not respond to the claim, Curley said the notion Cardinal Glass would leave the area was "absolutely not the case" and "not an option."

Portage has been looking into relocating its municipal airport, located on Silver Lake Drive, to a site immediately north of the city limits in the town of Fort Winnebago. Proponents of the airport relocation project point to a longer runway as the key benefit to a move, allowing for larger aircraft and increased safety. The relocation also is being pitched as a critical ingredient to the city's financial growth.

The project has been stalled by objections from a number of federal environmental organizations.

An environmental assessment for the project prepared by MSA Professional Services listed 13 Portage employers that use the airport in 2001. Those companies employed about 1,817 workers at that time. Cardinal Glass appears on the list but Saint-Gobain does not.

Curley said Cardinal Glass has three or four airplanes at its disposal, which it uses several times a month to connect executives with their plants in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Some of the planes cannot land in Portage and are forced to use the Baraboo Wisconsin Dells Airport, he said.

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