Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tehachapi Municipal Airport (KTSP) hangar owners, others balk at plan to give Federal Aviation Administration money to airport in Bishop

Tehachapi Municipal Airport


Tehachapi Municipal Airport hangar owners, airport staff and the public expressed firm disapproval as the City Council voted to give $300,000 from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program to the airport in Bishop.

The council on Aug. 7 voted 4-1 to transfer the funds despite hearing multiple concerns about projects at the airport that need attention, such as repairs to the cracked runway, drainage for hangars, a possible helicopter pad and taxiway road improvements.

"My concern is that now pretty soon you will be calling for the question tonight that you are going to vote on giving away our money for airport improvement funds to an airport with an airport management that takes an interest in the improvement of the airport," said James Roberts, who has a hangar at the airport. 

He added, "If funds are available for flood control, that would be great."

These FAA funds have been available since 2013. Some council members argued that the funds should be given away because the amount does not fully cover the cost of big projects, planning documents have not been updated, FAA permissions would be needed and environmental clearance takes time.


Tehachapi Municipal Airport


“We’ve been storing that money with the intention of doing two very large projects, runway rehabilitation and relocation of south parallel taxiway and the south parallel taxiway is not ready for funding both because it requires a significant match on our part, almost a half million dollars, and because the environmental clearances are still not done," Assistant City Manager Chris Kirk said. "We have not received environmental clearances from the FAA. ... it’s been almost two years and coming."

Council members also said that in the future they would consider smaller projects, establish better communication with the FAA and airport users, write a project list and possibly reestablish an airport commission.

The funds are being given away because of a three-year time limit from the FAA to either use the Airport Improvement Program funds or transfer them.

According to faa.org, the “Airport Improvement Program may apply for funding of certain projects subject to a FAA determination of project eligibility. Such projects typically fall within the categories of airport planning, airport development, land acquisition, and noise program implementation.”

This includes projects such as aircraft hangars, drainage, lighting, environmental studies, taxiway construction or rehabilitation, airfield signage and other eligible projects, according to the FAA website.

Ultimately, four council members — Mayor Ed Grimes, Susan Wiggins, Phil Smith and Dennis Wahlstrom — voted to give away the money. Councilman Kenneth R. Hetge voted against it.

"It's a tragedy when existing infrastructure or assets like the Tehachapi Airport is overlooked when it comes to maintaining and promoting the facilities," Hetge said after the meeting.

He added, "It's a portal for people visiting our airport via an airplane, and one opportunity to make a lasting impression."

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.tehachapinews.com

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