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City begins study for air terminal expansion

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Air Center Director Scott Stark participates in an Aug. 2 meeting of the city’s Airport Advisory Commission. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The city of Roswell is bursting at the seams when it comes to its 43-year-old airport terminal, so city managers and their consultants have received a state grant for a study of how best to expand the building and its related facilities and perhaps plan for phased-in growth over time.

“As everybody knows, we don’t have room for all the parking out there,” said Air Center Director Scott Stark during a Thursday meeting at the airport. “And we also don’t have room for all the baggage that comes in, and we’re very cramped in the security area.”

Stark said that the terminal at 1 Jerry Smith Circle at the Roswell International Air Center on the south side of Roswell was built in 1975.

“We are at the point in terms of growth of the city and the growth of airline service that we need to expand,” Stark said, “but the question is, how do we do it smart?”

On July 24, the city officially received a grant with the New Mexico Department of Transportation that will provide $148,162 for the study and preliminary design of an expanded terminal structure.

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Stark said that the study, to be conducted by Armstrong Consultants Inc. and Gensler, an architectural firm, is expected to determine what will be needed by Roswell airport users 20 years from now.

“This study will include secure and non-secure public areas, the screening checkpoint, baggage area and systems, ticket counters, air carrier areas, dining areas, airport administration offices and future gate expansion, as well as any opportunities to incorporate energy-efficient sustainable features,” he said.

The grant is for a two-year period, said Emilee Cantrell, a spokesperson for the Transportation Department.

“NMDOT expects a thoroughly developed and well-defined plan regarding the future of the Roswell terminal that allows the community to plan and implement the resources needed to best serve their community,” she said about the expected outcomes of the study.

Stark said the city has not undertaken a study since the current terminal was built, but that the study is one part of a larger planning process needed to propel the city’s economic growth.

“It will make it easier to attract new airlines and add destinations as the demand emerges,” he said. “This will, in turn, be a shot in the arm to help attract new business to this city, creating jobs.”

According to Stark, the airport now has 60,000 airline passengers a year. He said air service grew by 25 percent from 2015-2016 and “double-digit” growth is expected for 2016-2017 when the Federal Aviation Administration announces those numbers. He added that the FAA predicts a 65 percent increase nationwide in paying airline customers by 2038.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.