Forum editorial: Parking at Hector a downer
Hector International Airport is a busy place these days. Boardings continue to soar as Fargo-Moorhead grows and becomes an ever more enticing destination for business and recreational travelers. Boardings last year set a record, 448,848, rising 1...
Hector International Airport is a busy place these days. Boardings continue to soar as Fargo-Moorhead grows and becomes an ever more enticing destination for business and recreational travelers. Boardings last year set a record, 448,848, rising 12 percent over the year before, also a record. It’s an impressive testament to the metro area’s vibrancy.
What isn’t impressive: the limited parking space at the airport. As volume has grown at Hector, the response to accommodate passengers who park their cars at the airport has been to add to the sprawling hodge-podge of surface lots. As we’ve said before, the air travel gateway to the region’s major metro area should not be marred by the lack of accessible parking. It’s more than a mere inconvenience in the bitter winters that residents and visitors must endure.
Community leaders understand the importance of good air service. The Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. is surveying business leaders as to their primary domestic and international destinations, and asking which nonstop destinations they’d like to see added to Hector’s flight options for better connections.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have good parking available to go along with optimal air connections? The best solution to the parking crunch at Hector would be to build a ramp. Unfortunately, the Fargo Municipal Airport Authority last year decided to ground that idea, blanching at the price tag, estimated at between
$20 million and $25 million for a ramp with 1,000 to 1,200 stalls.
That is a daunting price tag, one that could strain the airport authority’s ability to finance. If so, there should be an effort to seek a broader funding base, an effort the Fargo City Commission should promote as part of its ongoing efforts to improve city services. Here’s a suggestion to spark discussion: How about imposing a dollar parking ramp fee for each boarding? Last year, it would have raised almost $450,000, and the year before almost $400,000. Many – most? – boarders also are drivers who must park their cars.
In the meantime, the airport authority should maintain a shuttle service to ferry passengers to and from remote parking places and the terminal, especially in frigid winter months. Let’s make Fargo friendlier to the flying public.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.