City and state officials in Columbus, Ohio plan to build an $8 million heliport for the Columbus Police Dept.
The department operates a fleet of five MD Helicopters MD-500Es out of its base at West Third and Olentangy avenues. The new facility, with an office and two hangars, will be built in the city’s Hilltop community, west of the downtown area.
The 12.9-acre parcel of land was identified in a state treasurer’s recent inventory of state-owned property. It had been owned by the state since 1845, and was once a lime quarry. Columbus purchased it from the state earlier this year for $194,000.
Lt. Michael Elkins, commander of the helicopter section, said the location was suggested by some of the unit’s members. They feel the site offers better clearances for takeoff and landings, and is just as centrally located as the current hangar. Members of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission, a civic organization that addresses the concerns of Hilltop’s residents, said the police department put them at ease about the move to their neighborhood. "They really did their homework and impressed us," member Tasha Cordon was quoted as saying. "Anything we can do for our police officers and the safety of our community, we are all for it."
The new, larger facility is slated for completion in 2009. The unit’s old base will be closed to helicopter operations, but the buildings will remain available for future city use.