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Air center director discusses funding, upgrades

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Alison Penn Photo Scott Stark, air center director, shares information on the airport at the city budget workshop on Monday evening in the large conference room at City Hall.

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Roswell International Air Center Director Scott Stark on Monday shared updates on the air center, touching on revenue and improvements to the facility during a budget workshop.

At the beginning of the city’s budget workshop, Stark said that in addition to revenue brought in from the airport, other revenue came in the form of $2,200,000 from various air center activities, $1,900,000 in federal grants, $446,000 in state grants, $2,400,000 from capital outlay, and $200,000 from passenger facility charges.

Councilor Steve Henderson asked if passenger boarding is increasing, and Stark said it has continued to rise since the Phoenix flight was added.

For an estimated cost of $175,000 — which might include a state grant — Stark said the airport is looking to expand the terminal and the secured area, which was made for 100 people, though when the flights are upgraded,140 people can be in the area. This cost Stark mentioned will include a capacity study. The baggage area and parking are things Stark is seeking to improve. He added that all of the numbers from his report are approximate costs.

Councilor Henderson asked specifically about the baggage area, and Stark said he would like to see what solutions the terminal study will bring to the table.

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“As all of you know, our secured area is too small for the airplanes that we are getting because American upgraded on the Phoenix flight,” Stark said. “They’ll be upgrading on the Dallas flight as well, so we’ll have two different 70-passenger planes coming in — most of the time at different times, but occasionally together.”

After these projects, Stark hopes the studies from the work done will assist the airport in planning for expansion in the next 20 years, for projected passenger growth.

Stark said there is some rutting on the north end of the runway (around 1,600 square feet) that will need to be taken out, replaced with new pavement and sealed. He said this improvement will be funded by Federal Aviation Administration, state and the city for $1,300,000. A Kubota tractor that was struck by lightning will also be replaced.

Improvement to major taxiways will cost approximately $202,000 and Stark said this originated from an FAA inspection. Though he only thought one taxiway was an issue, he said FAA wrote up all of the taxiways for paint improvements. Stark said he is looking into state grants for this project too.

Terminal ramp crack-sealing is estimated to cost $178,000 and general aviation ramp improvements to cost $130,000. Stark also mentioned the ongoing roof and security fence repairs.

“That’s what I want to find out to make sure that we don’t block ourselves from any further expansion down the road — that whatever we do now yields itself to adding on more later,” Stark said. “But yes, we are looking at that. I hope to get a real carousel.”

Councilor Jacob Roebuck asked about the progress of Pecos Flavors Winery’s takeover of the concession area, and Stark said the progress is slow-moving due to Pecos Flavors being busy with their other businesses.

Mayor Dennis Kintigh asked for the funding from the state Legislature to be addressed in the meeting.

“There’s potential of other projects coming,” City Manager Joe Neeb said. “We have $1,400,000 from the state for some building repairs and then another $900,000 from the state for some other uses out there.”

The $1,400,000 may go toward fire suppression at Dean Baldwin Painting and remaining funds will go to other buildings, according to Neeb.

Mayor Kintigh said the council will need to consider what will be done with the large hangar, which has been under discussion for five years, but the city is now in the position to do something with additional funding.

“It’s one of the issues that has been raised (as) an inhibitor for us to fully develop the airport as an economic development engine,” Kintigh said. “We need as a governing body to make — I would argue a couple key decisions.”

Kintigh said he, Neeb, and project manager Kevin Dillon have discussed this topic and estimated a decision on the larger hangar would be made in the next six months.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.