The New Year may bring the end of Evergreen Field (59S), a family owned public use airport in Vancouver, Wash. Cheryl Olson, the owner of the airport, confirmed that the property is in the process of being sold.
“There is no closing date,” Olson said. “We have been talking to a development company and they in turn have been talking to the city of Vancouver to see what the city will allow in terms of development.”
The decision to sell the property was not an easy one for the family. The airport was little more than a grass strip on the edge of town when Cheryl Olson’s father, Wally Olson, bought it in 1946 and turned it into a haven for tailwheel pilots.
For decades the airport was known for its flying school, which utilized J-3 Cubs. In 1964, it became the home of the Northwest Antique Aircraft Club. The airport now has a 2,120-foot asphalt runway and a parallel 2,000-foot turf runway.
As the years passed and the costs of operation increased, Olson sold off parcels of land to make ends meet. Wally Olson died in 1997, leaving the airport in the care of the Olson Family Trust.
In 2000 the family decided to sell the property.
The flying community tried to persuade the city and the Port of Vancouver to buy the airport and keep it open. Both declined. Efforts to find a person or group of pilots to pool their money to buy the land were also unsuccessful.
In 2003 zoning was changed from airport to mixed use.
That same year the NWAAC moved its annual fly-in to McMinnville Airport (MMV), although it kept a clubhouse at Evergreen.
“It is not a matter of ‘if’ Evergreen Field will close, it is now a matter of ‘when’,” says Gerald Baugh, manager for business development for the city of Vancouver. “The city is working with the developer to develop a master plan for the site. On the wish lists is a series of mixed uses, including residential, commercial, office, retail and restaurants. I believe there is a hotel as well. The property is just 55 acres, so it is a pretty dense urban type of use we are anticipating.”
Baugh, who is a student pilot, noted that the airport is still open, although some of the businesses and aircraft owners who were based there have moved elsewhere.
The FAA requires at least a 90-day notice before an airport can be shut down.
“That notice has not been given yet,” stressed Olson. “We still have businesses at the airport — an avionics and an aircraft repair business — and all the hangars are full.”
Olson noted that the flight school closed last year and the airport no longer has fuel.
“That has slowed the traffic a little,” she admits, “but when the sun is shining, people go flying.”