Howard, Arundel to sign pact on Tipton Airfield


The county executives of Anne Arundel and Howard counties plan to sign a letter of agreement April 25, pledging to operate Tipton Airfield at Fort Meade as a civilian facility Oct. 1, officials said last night.

News of the impending signing came during an informational meeting in Columbia in which officials from both counties, Fort Meade, and the federal and Maryland aviation authorities answered questions about coverting the facility from military to civilian use.

Officials said the counties plan to solicit bids June 1 for a so-called "fixed base operator" that would provide services at the airfield once it opens to the public. Officials said they hope to hire the operator by Aug. 15.

Most of the questions last night appeared to come from aviators. They wanted to know, for example, whether the public would participate in developing a minimum operating plan for the airfield.

The plan is to be completed July 1.

Sam Minnitte, the Tipton Airfield project manager for Anne Arundel County, said officials "haven't addressed the issue of how to receive public comment on operation standards" yet, but assured the 50-member audience that once drafted, the standards will be aired and that officials will welcome public comment.

Although the airfield is scheduled to open to the public Oct. 1., many details are yet to be resolved, including the question of what happens to aircraft owned by members of a Fort Meade air club.

Club members were told that the issue is still being discussed, and that officials hope to have it settled by opening day.

Another issue still to be resolved is what happens to utilities -- the electricity and the water and sewer service now supplied by Fort Meade.

For the short term, the installation will meter the airport's use of those services, but ultimately, the Army would like the entire field to be on separate systems, a Fort Meade spokesman said.

The name of the airport will not be changed.

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