A date has been set for Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill to close to the public.
The UNC Board of Trustees voted in November to move forward closing the airport. An email from university officials to the Town of Chapel Hill said the airport would be closing on May 15.
The email said that all the lessee’s planes were relocated by the owners, as of May 1. “The runway will be closed in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration requirements on May 16.”
UNC Hospital Air Care has reached an agreement, according to the correspondence, to allow “occasional helicopter parking and refueling at the airport over the next 12 months, while the hospital constructs some additional helipad facilities away from Chapel Hill.”
Officials added that UNC has “no near-term plans to construct buildings at the airport site. Likewise, there are no current plans to sell the land.” But a solar energy project will be built on the site beginning in the second half of this year, the email said.
Trustees heard at a September 2017 meeting that more than $1 million in repairs were needed to continue operating the airport and that the facility is currently losing approximately $7,000 per month.
UNC also chose to relocate Area Health Education Centers training to Raleigh-Durham International Airport from Horace Williams in 2011.
Initial conversations about closing the airport were brought forward by Chancellor James Moeser in 2002. The thought process at the time tied the closure of the airport to the beginning of construction of Carolina North – a research and mixed-use academic campus planned for 250 acres near the airport.
The recession and other challenges have stalled the activation of that land, and the new resolution passed last fall by the trustees severs the ties between closing the airport and beginning of construction at Carolina North.