Air­port com­mit­tee talks re­forms at first 2015 meet­ing

Prob­lems at Cor­nelius-Moore field dis­cussed, fixes for fuel pumps and in­spec­tions of hangars up first

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By KEVIN MYRICK Editor

The first meet­ing of the re-es­tab­lished air­port com­mit­tee came to­gether to or­ga­nize and dis­cuss what should be done with Polk County’s run­way and hangars off High­way 278 at Air­port Road.

Polk County Com­mis­sion chair gave com­mis­sion­ers Scotty Tillery and Ray Bar­ber the as­sign­ment of re-es­tab­lish­ing the air­port com­mit­tee with the man­date to make Polk County’s run­way and fa­cil­i­ties great again.

Tillery, who is chair­ing the com­mit­tee, called in a citizen’s ad­vi­sory panel of lo­cal pilots to help with the com­ing work re­quired for the Polk County air­port.

Among those who met on Thurs­day, Aug. 27 to start fig­ur­ing out the fu­ture of the air­port were Derek and Ver­non Miller, Leroy Pew, Robert Cannon, Ge­orge Tan­ner, Tommy Britt and Jonathan Stitt. Many of those on the panel were also part of the pre­vi­ous com­mit­tee which was left to linger dur­ing past com­mis­sions.

Now back to work, the com­mit­tee has a laun­dry list of prob­lems to ad­dress at the air­port, some of which are al­ready un­der­way or sched­uled through GDOT Avi­a­tion to be funded for fixes.

How­ever, large among those that needs im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion is the way that planes can fuel in Polk County.

Cur­rently, the county re­lies on self-ser­vice pumps at the air­port to

fuel smaller planes with reg­u­lar avi­a­tion ga­so­line, while larger ones with more pow­er­ful en­gines re­quire the use of a pres­sur­ized fuel truck car­ry­ing a Jet-A mix­ture to gas up tanks.

Most of the prob­lems are with the self-serve pumps, which re­quire a lot of trial and er­ror to get to work cor­rectly with credit cards.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers told county man­ager Matt Denton that in the past, when the pump has been fixed it works for a day and then some­thing else hap­pens re­quir­ing another re­pair.

“They have never worked right since they were in­stalled,” said Cannon.

Denton ex­plained that when the fuel farm was in­stalled, state DOT of­fi­cials in the avi­a­tion depart­ment re­quired con­tracts for all lo­cal air­ports to go to the low­est bid­der on the pro­ject, which in this case was Cobb En­vi­ron­men­tal.

“The fuel farm cost us $325,000, and in or­der to get any po­ten­tial re­im­burse­ment from the state DOT we had to go with the low bid­der by their rules,” he said. “But I wouldn’t rec­om­mend them to in­stall a light bulb.”

The sys­tem – which is more than a year and a half old – is no longer un­der war­ranty and each time it re­quires re­pair, the county has to call in Cobb En­vi­ron­men­tal and be charged for mileage and hours worked.

Tillery asked the panel and com­mit­tee to seek out oth­ers who might be able to fix the pumps with­out in­volv­ing Cobb En­vi­ron­men­tal.

Stitt also told the com­mit­tee that work needs to be done soon on pumps con­nected to the fuel tanks. The pumps keep ground and rain­wa­ter from get­ting mixed in with the gas.

Com­plaints about gas prices at the air­port were chief among the panel’s first com­ments dur­ing the Aug. 28 ses­sion, with ques­tions as to why Polk’s prices are higher than those at Rome’s Richard B. Rus­sell field and in Car­roll­ton.

Denton told com­mit­tee mem­bers the county was some­what lim­ited in what ac­tions can be taken as far as fuel costs are con­cerned. Cur­rently, the air­port is only al­lowed to make enough money to op­er­ate and no more.

Any prof­its the air­port makes, say off the sale of avi­a­tion fuel, has to go right back into in­vest­ments into the air­port. Good for the long term, when big bills like the fuel farm come up, but not good for try­ing to lower prices to com­pete with other air­ports in the area buy­ing more fuel at a time.

“We can’t legally make more money than it takes to run it, which means we also can’t lower fuel prices to re­main com­pet­i­tive, be­cause it can’t cost us any more money to run the air­port ei­ther than it al­ready does,” he said.

Tillery said that fuel costs will be dis­cussed in fu­ture meet­ings, but that im­me­di­ate pri­or­i­ties needed to be placed on the pumps, re­plac­ing light­ing to guide plans com­ing in on the run­way, an up­date of air­port pol­icy and main­tain­ing a clean area.

He also wanted to look into prob­lems with the hangars and plane stor­age.

With sev­eral spa­ces open, Tillery said one way to at­tract peo­ple back to the air­port is be­ing com­pet­i­tive with pric­ing on places for area res­i­dents to house their planes.

Di­vid­ing the newly formed panel into two groups along with him­self and Bar­ber, they were tasked to give the air­port an in­spec­tion of all hangars and build­ings to de­ter­mine what needs to be done, es­pe­cially in terms of re­pairs, to make rentals at­trac­tive again.

Some of the long term goals of the group are al­ready in a five year cap­i­tal im­prove­ment plan put down on pa­per by state of­fi­cials. How­ever, Denton said those plans change from year to year based on state spend­ing pri­or­i­ties.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment from the state, money is cur­rently be­ing spent to clear more glide path space for planes com­ing in and out of the air­port, cost­ing a to­tal of $561,000 mostly in fed­eral and state dol­lars, with less than $30,000 match­ing costs from county cof­fers. Work on that is ex­pected to be com­pleted by the end of 2017.

In the com­ing years, run­way aprons, taxi­ways and a length­en­ing of the land­ing strip by 1,000 feet will also be in the works, so long as state pri­or­i­ties re­main as they are.

By 2020, the state will fi­nally re­im­burse the up-front costs of the fuel farm to the tune of $329,862.

The com­mit­tee plans to meet again and re­port back on the sev­eral items dis­cussed in mid-Oc­to­ber.

Kevin Myrick/SJ

The newly re­formed air­port com­mit­tee met on Thurs­day, Aug. 27.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.