LAKEVIEW — When Clark Newell took over as manager of Lakeview Airport-Griffith Field last summer, one of his goals was to implement a courtesy car for pilots.
Other Michigan airports such as Clare Municipal Airport and Roben-Hood Airport in Big Rapids have courtesy cars for pilots to use to travel into town after they park their planes at the airport.
Newell said many pilots fly in for the businesses at the airport and have their airplanes serviced or drop off plane parts. They may need to spend a couple hours at the airport, and having a courtesy car would allow them to go eat and explore in downtown Lakeview.
“I think it’s going to help the people and our community,” Newell said. “For me, it’s a no-brainer for promoting our airport and our businesses.”
During Monday night’s Lakeview Village Council meeting, council members discussed a policy for implementing a courtesy car. The village borrowed a current policy implemented at Kirsch Municipal Airport in Sturgis, which includes a sign-out page for the car and an agreement form for using the car.
According to the policy, drivers must have a valid U.S. driver’s license, proof of car insurance and be 21 years old or older. The car can only be used for two hours or less unless special arrangements are made, and the car must stay within a five-mile radius of the village limits.
Drivers are required to follow all Michigan driving laws and may not consume alcohol or other substances that could impair driving and must refrain from using cell phones as well as cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes while driving.
The village will not charge for use of the courtesy car, but will accept monetary donations. Drivers are not required to refuel the vehicle, but Village Manager Shay Gallagher said it was his understanding refueling the vehicle was an unwritten courtesy rule.
Councilman Dave Lund asked if the village’s attorney had reviewed the policy. Gallagher said the attorney had not looked at the policy and to do so would cost the village between $300 and $400. Village President Ed winter suggested it might be a waste of money since the policy is already implemented at another airport.
“I can get a hold of Sturgis to see if they have had any push back on (the policy),” Gallagher offered.
Lund asked Gallagher to ask two or three municipal airports who have a courtesy car on how their policy works, but council members remained skeptical of a courtesy car’s usefulness.
“I think the cost is going to outweigh the benefit for this,” Councilman Steve Case said.
He noted that a car costs more than just the initial purchase price and would include costs for insurance, registration and maintenance. To help abate some of the expenses, Newell, who owns Clark’s Auto Sales in Lakeview, said he would donate service work and maintenance for the car.
After a long discussion, the council agreed to try out the courtesy car and end the service if it isn’t beneficial to the village.
“This airport is pretty busy,” Councilman Bob Huttinga said. “If there’s (a car) available it might bring in even more traffic.”
Winter said he has heard a desire from pilots for a courtesy car for the past couple of decades.
Ultimately, council members voted unanimously to implement the policy.
Next, Newell hopes to secure donation funds to buy a vehicle to be used as a courtesy car.
“As soon as the village tells me I can start, I will go on Facebook and maybe a couple (news)papers and ask for people to send money to the village to be earmarked for the courtesy car,” Newell said. “Having a courtesy car, it would just be a win-win.”
IN OTHER MATTERS …
The Lakeview Village Council:
• Discussed and approved a purchasing policy for department heads to spend up to $100 without the village manager’s approval. Previously, department heads were requesting permission for every purchase. The new policy allows department heads some autonomy while preventing department workers from purchasing materials without approval. The motion passed 3-2 with Council members Dave Lund and Steve Case opposed.
• Unanimously approved a sale of village assets policy. Previously, the village had no policy. The new policy allows the village manager to advertise and sell village assets for $1,000 or less without village council’s approval. Anything above will require council’s approval.
• Were informed by Village Manager Shay Gallagher that sewer motor and pump at the M-46 lift station is broke beyond repair. After a conversation with Village President Ed Winter, Gallagher went ahead and paid $10,700 for a new pump and scheduled to have the pump inspected.