Originally Published: June 3, 2015 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Functionality versus cost: That is one of the points that Prescott City Council members will have to weigh when they ultimately choose a site for a new terminal at the Prescott Airport.
On Tuesday, June 2, City Council members heard a report on the $41,000 terminal siting assessment that they approved in December 2014.
The task for consultants Dibble Engineering and subcontractor Nicholas J. Pela Associates was to look at two basic terminal-location options - the west site, which would be near the current terminal; and the east site, which would be on Melville Road.
In determining the value of each, the consultants took a number of factors into consideration, such as ease of access, land acquisition, operational considerations, potential for environmental impacts, impacts on adjacent land uses, and cost of the terminal building, site work, utilities, and access roads.
While the Melville-area site scored higher in usage issues, the west site scored higher in the cost category. Overall, the two sites were less than a point apart in the weighted-value system used by the consultants.
Now, it will be up to the City Council to decide which of the two sites would better serve the municipal airport.
After the meeting, Prescott Airport Manager John Cox said he expects the issue to go back to the council for a formal vote - probably sometime after the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.
That, in turn, would kick off a process of grant applications for state and federal money to help build the terminal.
"At best, the new terminal is about seven years away," Cox said.
For years, city officials have considered the possibility of a new terminal to replace the existing 1940s-era facility. In late 2014, an Airport Area Steering Group helped compile an airport strategic-planning process.
Among the action items from the strategic plan was the need for a new terminal - not only because of its small size, but because of its proximity to the airport runway.
While the consultants were not tasked with designing a new terminal, consultant Nicholas Pela told the council that some floor-planning design was needed to determine what would fit at each site.
Calling it a "functional building," consultants outlined plans for an initial phase consisting of 9,000 square feet for "single peak" use - at a cost of about $5.9 million for the west site, and $9.3 million for the east site.
For the "ultimate phase," the costs would be about $14.3 million for the west site, and $17.2 million for the east site.
Council members were split on the best location for the terminal.
Councilman Greg Lazzell voiced support for the east site, pointing out that the west site would require removal of hangar facilities, which he said are a major source of income for the airport.
But Councilman Steve Blair said the west site would be more beneficial for the expected future development along the Highway 89 corridor.
Blair also had questions about when the new terminal might move forward. "I've been (on the council) for 16 years, and we're still at square one," he said.
Mayor Marlin Kuykendall responded that the City Council has made the commitment for the new terminal, and it would be up to future councils to follow through.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2034, or 928-642-0951.