Investing in an asset

Published 8:48 pm Thursday, March 15, 2018

The decision by the Washington City Council to commit to providing $500,000 from the city’s general fund to help leverage a little over $4 million in state grant funds to improve runway 5-23 at Washington-Warren Airport is a good investment of city dollars.

The city also plans to seek state grant money to help pay for improving the airport’s taxiways and tarmac. Those improvements, combined with an airport terminal that’s not quite three years old, will result in a “new” airport, according to city officials. Those city officials — City Council members, the mayor and city staff — consider the airport as a vital economic-development tool and an asset that’s becoming more valuable as airport improvements continue.

The city has been active in seeking money — grants and other sources — to pay for airport improvements. The purpose of the runway 5-23 project is to rehabilitate the pavement surface and strengthen existing pavement to accommodate aircraft up to 60,000 lb.,”wrote Frankie Buck Jr., the city’s public-works director, in an email.

The city has other plans for the airport.

During its Jan. 8 meeting, the council adopted a resolution in support of a $61,028 grant to help pay for a new corporate hangar at the airport. The grant, if awarded to the city, will be combined with other grant funds from previous years. The total project cost for engineering and construction is estimated at $355,000, according to the memorandum. The project consists of a 60-foot-by-60-foot hangar, a 20-foot-by-20-foot office space, apron and taxi lane.

Currently, the airport does not have hangar space to accommodate additional corporate aircraft whose owners want to base those aircraft at the airport, according to a city document.

In November 2017, the council chose Earl Malpass, who already had a presence at the airport, to manage the airport. During the council’s meeting Monday, city officials noted that Malpass is doing an outstanding job of running and promoting the airport.

With major improvements in the works and Malpass overseeing airport operations, it appears Washington-Warren Airport will prove to be the asset city officials want it to become.