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Airport commission discusses expansions, finances

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Progress on the airport terminal study and conceptual ideas regarding a future wide-body hangar at the Roswell International Air Center were shared with members of the City of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission during the group’s Thursday morning meeting.

An overview of finances for air center operations also was provided.

• The city’s airport consultants, Armstrong Consultants Inc., presented some preliminary information on developing cost estimates and conceptual drawings for a future wide-body hangar to house 777 or other modern aircraft that are too large for existing hangars or that require more updated capabilities than found in the commercial hangars on the airfield now. A contract to do the study was approved by the Roswell City Council as a way to provide plans and cost information to future investors, government agencies or legislators.

Mayor Dennis Kintigh, chair of the commission, expressed concern that the current concept being developed — for a large facility on the south side of the airfield off of Y-O Road that would require the extension of sewer and water lines and the construction of new roads and ramps — was unrealistic for either the city or potential investors to build. “I would like to see an option … that would be a doable project,” he said. But other commission members as well as some staff and consultants said that the hangar study has two main purposes. The first aim is to develop plans and financial estimates for a large project that could be pitched to the federal government or international and national developers or corporations. The second use would be scaleable, allowing the cost estimates and plans derived to be scaled down to smaller facilities or for new hangars placed near existing buildings and ramps.

• The airport terminal expansion study has developed three concepts that would enable the 43-year-old airport building to prepare for increased passengers and visitors and additional commercial airline service. The city received a New Mexico Department of Transportation grant in July to analyze ideas for expansion, and Gensler, a company specializing in airport design, is preparing the study. Stark said air center staff are leaning toward a “middle” choice of the three options presented, considering the idea of an entirely new terminal outside budgetary options. Recommendations are expected to be presented at the next commission meeting as well as at future City Council and council committee meetings.

• The city’s internal auditor, Juan Fuentes, presented some financial information about air center finances. The issue has bearing on the question now before the legislature about forming an independent air authority to govern the air center. If placed under an independent authority, the city’s subsidies of airport operations would not continue as it does now. The summary estimating fiscal-year 2019 revenues and expenditures showed $5.036 million in revenues and $8.93 million in expenditures in the main fund for the air center, one of three funds. But with cash-on-hand of more than $5.116 million at the start of the year and grant funds, the air center is projected to end fiscal year 2019 on June 30 in the black. A commission member also noted that the FY 2019 rent revenues have been projected at lower than 2018 actuals even though the economy is improving and air center staff are working to raise rents. City staff noted that they are continuing their efforts to analyze the air center finances.

The next meeting of the Airport Advisory Commission is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 21 in the airport terminal building, 1 Jerry Smith Circle.