Just finished reading the thesis report. Interesting but there were a couple of things I question. Cleveland's Regional Airport System is more than CLE and BKL. He briefly mentions Cuyahoga County, no mention of Lorain County or Freedom Field. He spent a lot of time discussing the destruction of the Riverside Community by the airport in the 70's - 80's as a bad thing. Until the last 727 and DC-9 were retired, who in their right mind wanted to live there? I lived in WestPark briefly in the 80's. The better housing and neighborhoods were always north of Lorain Rd and further from the noise. I also think a lot of the reduction in aircraft movements at both CLE and BKL were more due to the collapse of light general aviation (flight training and owner operated single and light twins) They hardly exist anymore. He inferred that it was due to declining population and the weaker economy. His report did discuss UAL pullback role too. But I believe he is counting all airfield moments in his numbers which makes it look worse than it is.
Anyway, I do agree with his belief that Burke should down due to its lack of use and required need for subsidies. It's going to lose even more money this year with COVID-19.
I read the entire thesis as well. Not bad for a young scholar (not even sure he's from Cleveland either). I guess it added something to the overall literature of "smart decline" in the context of an overbuilt, costly airport system in a region in decline (let's face it, Cleveland is
still in decline relative to most other large metro areas, albeit at a much slower, more manageable pace than in the 1970s-1980s). He specifically chose to focus on the region's main airports, which makes sense, given that they're both owned and managed by the City of Cleveland, but does mention CGF specifically when talking about closing Burke. He also included the Riverside discussion as part of an appendix, not the main body of his thesis, with the apparent intent of reminding all planners and citizens of the sometimes hidden, human and economic impacts of a "development at all costs" approach. Just look at what the Interstate highway system did to thriving Cleveland neighborhoods, connected with effective public transportation (including trolleys, buses and the rapid) in the1950s and 1960s; we're still living with the damaging aftermath of those horrible, in my humble opinion, decisions to this day.
I also think a more thorough discussion of the fundamental changes to the commercial aviation system would be helpful to understanding the decline in aircraft movements at CLE and BKL, including the impact of 9/11, the great recession, and now, unfortunately COVID-19, on the airline business, including it's consolidation. Also, more discussion of CLE's upswing in traffic, mentioned only tangentially, as well as its improving financial situation and bond rating, along with the upcoming new master plan (perhaps this wasn't announced when the thesis was being written?) would add greatly to this paper. Perhaps an addendum or part 2 could be written?
Finally, his discussion of the fate of BKL was pretty good. Dealing with the FAA and costs to move tenants to CLE, CGF, or other airports could be very tricky. Although I'm an aviation/airport fanatic and remember the good ol' days when BKL had decent commercial air traffic, I think BKL is largely redundant, but am not certain of what to do with the land, if it were to be closed. Until the Cleveland region actually starts growing again, I don't think there is much demand for a large-scale mixed use development on the lakefront. As with new retail development in the region, it would simply cannibalize other residential and shopping areas of the county and leave them empty eyesores and additional examples of decline. Some sort of green space might make more sense, although it would be brutal to visit several months of the year. Provisions could be made to develop parts of the land should demand arise in the future.
Overall, this was an interesting paper. Glad I have some extra time to read, research, and dig into the archives a bit, especially since there is little positive aviation news currently.