Originally Published: September 11, 2018 8:04 p.m.
With approval of a quarter-million dollar contract this week, the Prescott City Council set off a process that could lead to the launch of a new airport terminal within a year.
By a unanimous vote Tuesday, Sept. 11, the council approved a $249,672 contract with Dibble Engineering for preliminary design of a new Prescott Regional Airport terminal to be built near the dated terminal that has served the airport for the past 70 years.
If all goes as planned with the design and the anticipated federal funding, Airport Director Robin Sobotta said construction on the new 16,808-square-foot terminal could be underway by September 2019.
Noting that many of the council members had heard about the need for a new terminal “for years, if not decades,” Sobotta said, “It’s time we design and build one.”
Under the contract with Dibble, the first 30 percent of the design is scheduled to be done by December 2018. The second phase of design is then expected to get underway by early 2019, and be complete by mid-May.
The total cost of first and second phases of design is expected to be about $550,000, Sobotta said. Because that exceeds the $450,000 that the city budgeted for terminal design, she said the airport plans to downsize its hangar relocation project, and move $100,000 to cover the additional design cost.
Assuming the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves the design and the bidding process, the city could be opening bids for a new terminal by late June 2019, and could be demolishing existing hangars to make room for the new building by August.
Sobotta acknowledged that the proposed schedule is “aggressive,” but she stressed that the new terminal is needed to provide space for Prescott’s new commercial air service.
As an introduction to her presentation to the City Council this week, Sobotta reported that United Express’s Aug. 29 launch was one of the largest ever for operator SkyWest Airlines’ Essential Air Service contracts.
The downside of that, she said, is that “the terminal isn’t big enough.”
More space is needed for passenger queuing, airport operations, security processing, and landside facilities.
At 16,808 square feet for the initial building, the proposed new terminal would be considerably larger than the city’s 1940s-era terminal, which consists of 4,400 square feet in the original building, and several thousand more square feet in add-ons.
The first phase of the new terminal would accommodate at least two gates for the airlines, and possibly three, Sobotta said.
Ultimately, she added, the long-term plans would be for a 33,093-square-foot terminal.
The proposed location for the new terminal just north of the existing terminal was determined in a 2015 siting study.
Planning is also underway for reuse of the historic original terminal building. Although the uses are still being discussed, Sobotta said the old terminal building could one day serve as a period restaurant, preserving the large windows that look out onto the runway, and the quaint fireplace.
Along with its progress on the terminal design, the city also is working with the FAA to secure funding for the $7 million cost of a terminal. Sobotta said as much as 65 percent of the cost could be covered under the FAA’s capital improvement funding.
In addition, she said, Congress recently approved $1 billion a year for small airports. City officials are working on an application to get a portion of that as well, she said.
City Manager Michael Lamar said after the meeting that the city has a balance of unrestricted funds that could go toward its share of the terminal costs.
Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill said the unrestricted-fund account contained about $2 million at the start of the current fiscal year on July 1, and more could be added throughout the year.
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