Originally Published: August 14, 2018 10:23 p.m.
With projects totaling more than $146 million now on the books, the Prescott Municipal Airport is looking at multiple major improvements over the next two decades.
A new terminal building, a runway extension, and a new air traffic control tower are among the projects included in an Airport Layout Plan and capital improvement plan that the Prescott City Council approved Tuesday, Aug. 14.
While the plan still needs the review and approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it is expected to ultimately serve as “a critical planning tool that depicts both existing facilities and planned development for the airport,” according to a city memo.
Creation of the Airport Layout Plan was a part of an airport master-planning process that has been underway since 2016.
Over the past two years, the city and its consultant, Delta Airport Consultants, have conducted five meetings with the Master Plan Advisory Committee, as well as four public open-house meetings to get feedback from the community.
The City Council considered the Airport Layout Plan, as well as an accompanying Public Airport Disclosure Map, during two meetings on Tuesday — a study session, and the regular voting session.
Douglas Sander, the project manager with Delta Airport Consultants, presented a report on the master-planning process, along with the results of the Airport Layout Plan.
His presentation also included an airport capital improvement plan, which is split into three phases — at a total cost estimate of $146.5 million.
Of the total amount, officials estimate that anywhere from 90 to 95 percent of the costs would be covered by FAA grants, leaving the city with between about $7 million and $14 million in costs.
The first phase of the capital improvement plan lists 10 projects that are expected to occur in the next five years — at a total cost of $33.6 million.
Among the initial projects are: a $6 million new airport terminal building; a $13.9 million taxiway relocation; and a $5.8 million runway rehabilitation of pavement and lighting.
Projects in the second phase, at a total cost of $80 million, are expected to occur in the next six to 10 years. Phase II includes such major projects as a $40 million extension of the main runway, and an $18.5 million new air traffic control tower.
The third phase — at a total cost of $32.9 million — would take place in the next 11 to 20 years, and would include another $18 million runway extension, as well as a $5 million terminal expansion, and a $4 million construction of high-speed exit taxiways.
Councilman Phil Goode noted that even with the FAA’s 90-to-95-percent contribution, the city could be looking at more than $600,000 a year for the next 20 years to cover its share of the improvement costs.
“Clearly, we have to come up with a long-term plan,” Goode said.
Mayor Greg Mengarelli responded that those costs could be offset by additional federal money that would be available to the city if the airport were to reach the long sought-after 10,000-passenger (enplanement) level per year.
With the start of service by United Express’s 50-passenger regional jets scheduled to begin later this month, officials have expressed hope that the airport would reach the 10,000-passenger level in the next year.
That achievement would bring $1 million per year in federal funding to the city — money that officials say could go toward Prescott’s share of needed improvements.
Discussion also arose over the Public Airport Disclosure Map, which lays out a number of future air traffic patterns and noise contour areas.
City Attorney Jon Paladini pointed out that recent residential development in the airport area has been done with a requirement for an “avigation easement,” which is intended to alert home buyers of proximity to the airport.
“It puts owners and prospective buyers on notice (about the nearby airport),” Paladini said.
City Manager Michael Lamar said the city is also looking into installing signs in neighborhoods within the airport impact area, notifying of the proximity of the airport.
Along with alerting prospective buyers about possible air traffic patterns in the area, Lamar said the signs would serve to “show the FAA that we’ve done our due diligence.”