FAA grant funding in store for airfield

Charlie Bassett, Williams Airport Committee chair, returned from this year’s Arizona Airport Association (AzAA) spring conference with good tidings for Williams — a verbal commitment for $1,618,071 in federal funding for additional improvements to H.A. Clark Memorial Field.

“This amount, in conjunction with previously issued grants will be sufficient to complete structural upgrades, runway safety area improvements and wildlife management plans to allow the airport to proceed with Federal Aviation Regulation 139 certification application,” Bassett said.

Dennis Dalbeck, city manager, stressed many have worked hard and long to ensure airport progress.

“It’s been a culminated effort of past and present mayors, city councils, city staff and airport committee members to construct facilities at Williams airport that would allow for new commercial and expanded general aviation services,” Dalbeck said. “This work can be done this summer, meaning the runway will only be closed for four or five months and reopened next winter.”

Upgrades will include widening the runway from 75 to 100 feet, removing the hump from the runway’s northwest corridor that impedes line vision for small aircraft and improved runway sinage.

Bassett described runway safety areas (RSA) as a flat open space free of anything penetrating the airspace. At Clark Field the RSA will extend 150 feet each side of the runway’s center line and 600 feet beyond its southern threshold.

The chain link wildlife management fence around the airport perimeter will be eight feet tall topped by three strands of barbed wire extending it another foot and a half.

“We have to declare to the FAA how we will institute a wildlife management plan at the airport and have been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services Division to assess our plan,” Bassett said.

As mentioned in last week’s edition of the Williams-Grand Canyon News, Bassett made his announcement about additional Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funds at the April 27 city council meeting and was met with a round of applause.

“The city’s share is just five cents on the dollar,” he said. “The federal share is 91.06 percent, matched by 4.47 percent in state funds and 4.47 in city funds.”

Bassett said the commitment for more federal funds resulted from combined efforts. He then went on to mention a March 29 trip to Los Angeles, where he along with Ken Edes, mayor-elect, and Dalbeck met with Western Division FAA representatives. He also included past input from city staff and input from Stantec Engineering, the Phoenix consulting firm hired to oversee Williams airport improvements.

“Gary Adams, director of Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Aeronautics Division, has also been very supportive not from just a project standpoint but from an educational standpoint as well,” Bassett said.

It was a $1,373,851 ADOT Aeronautics Division grant that funded the airport’s new terminal, an automated weather observation system, taxiway and flight apron improvements dedicated Feb. 29.

“It should also be noted that the FAA was pleased at our progress — the new fixed-based operation and fuel concession facilities (operated by Williams Air Adventure) and the fact that our based aircraft number has increased by 200 percent from seven to 15,” Bassett said.

He also underscored recent federal legislation has allocated more than $12 billion in funding for aviation improvement programs over the next four years.

“At the AzAA conference, the American Association of Airport Executives gave a video update on recent legislative funding,” Bassett said. “Congress has finally come forth with enough to fund (airport) appropriations until 2003.

“That in itself is a very positive thing.”

In closing, Bassett stressed these benefits extend to the general population.

“Airports are not just for people that play with airplanes,” Bassett said. “They are an important part of the community as a whole and also part of the larger picture of the entire state’s system.”

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