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City plans changes to airport waiting areas, parking

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Additional parking areas and paid covered parking at the Roswell Air Center are being discussed after the city received a $2 million federal grant. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Roswell Air Center staff are working on a plan to expand the passenger waiting area in the airport terminal and also are developing some ideas about new parking areas to be built and equipped using $2 million from a recently awarded federal grant.

The secure waiting area for airline passengers after checking in and going through security would be expanded to provide for an open-air area, said Mark Bleth, Air Center manager.

He said that slatted fencing or some other type of border would probably be installed around the area to provide security at the same time that people could experience an outdoor setting.

The expansion also would accommodate overflow on those occasions when more than one flight is scheduled to depart, Bleth said.

The plan was endorsed by the City of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission during its Thursday meeting.

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The group also held a discussion about parking improvements.

The city and Air Center received a $2 million grant in September from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Military Airport Program to add and reconfigure parking at the airport.

“The key thing is that we can use this MAP money for revenue-generating answers — huge deal for us,” said Mayor Dennis Kintigh. “No. 2, whatever we do has to be something that will not be undone when we get around to renovating the terminal, upgrading the terminal.”

Paid parking — at least in some areas — is expected to be part of the project, although it could be that no drivers would be charged a fee for the first two or three hours of parking so as to allow free parking for business visitors, those waiting to pick up passengers, and patrons of the new Pecos Flavors Winery restaurant expected to open this winter inside the terminal.

The funding for the parking expansion and upgrades has a three-year lifespan, but city officials are beginning to discuss various options.

Those include building new covered parking areas to the west and north of the existing long-term parking lot, reconfiguring the existing short-term parking immediately in front of the terminal to improve traffic flow and creating overhead structures over the sidewalk outside the terminal to expand the current passenger pick-up area.

There also are preliminary plans to create a parking area for oversized vehicles and an extended parking area where vehicles could be parked for many weeks or months by permit.

Staff and commission members also talked about creating automated kiosks or other types of automated ticketing and payment systems so that there would be no expenses related to staffing the lots.

The airport is not only in need of more parking spaces, Air Center employees have explained in prior meetings, but it also needs to ensure that parking is arranged in such a way that all vehicles parked within 300 feet of the terminal can be moved quickly in the event of an emergency.

The Roswell Air Center became eligible for MAP funding in October 2018 after Kintigh and other local officials worked with New Mexico congressional leaders to change federal regulations regarding the MAP program so that former military bases that had been closed prior 1977 also could be eligible for funding. The Roswell military based closed and became city property in 1967.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.