City airport receives $1 million

William Thompson: Quay County Sun

The Tucumcari Municipal Airport received a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant for $1 million.

The grant will pay for reconstruction and expansion of a more than 20-year-old runway.

City Manager Richard Primrose said he received a fax from Senator Jeff Bingaman1s office Friday telling him the city was awarded the grant.

3The FAA will pay 95 percent of the grant money, the state and the city will pay two and a half percent each. The Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Board recommended to city commissioners to pay that two and a half percent out of the economic development tax. The City Commission approved that action,2 Primrose said.

Steve Stephenson, Tucumcari1s airport manager, said the city received the grant on condition the state and city matched that funding by each paying two and a half percent of the grant.

3This grant will pay for phase one of the runway construction,2 Stephenson said.

3About three quarters of one of our two runways will be dug up and rebuilt,2 Stephenson said.

The city will apply on behalf of the airport later in the year for an additional $1 million grant to complete reconstruction of the runway.

3I am sure we will get that grant. It1s just a matter of submitting the paperwork, 2 Stephenson said.

It1s a project that has been needed for a year, Stephenson said.

3A plane damaged part of the runway during our air show last year. The runway just couldn1t support the weight of the plane.2 Stephenson said. 3We patched up the damage, but the runway needs to be rebuilt.2

The runway will also be extended 1,100 feet, he said.

Runway repairs are important to the city1s economy, Stephenson said.

The airport handles nearly 30,000 operations per year and earned Tucumcari about $285,000 in rental of hangar space and fuel sales last year alone, he said.

3Many aircraft use our airport for touch-and-go landings,2 Stephenson said. 3Ranchers fly in, use our courtesy car, go buy groceries and come back and load up their planes. Businessmen fly in and use our airport meeting rooms,2 he said.

3For businesses wanting to relocate to Tucumcari, those executives need a place to fly into or they won1t want to relocate here.2

Stephenson said he is working with city hall to involve the community in the airport by forming an airport board.

3We need to keep everything going in the right direction,2 Stephenson said. 3It will be easier with a board, a group of people, to explain the airport1s needs to the city commissioners. The board would meet once a month.2