Hartselle, Ala., Seeks Grant to Fix Airport

Nov. 9--HARTSELLE -- The City Council will seek more than $850,000 in Federal Aviation Administration grant money for Rountree Field Airport.

"We may not get all of this money, but we have to have our name in the pot," Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development said.

A unanimous council approved resolutions Tuesday guaranteeing that the city will provide the matching funds if Hartselle gets the grants.

Johnson said the Alabama Department of Transportation told Hartselle in a letter that the city had until Tuesday to submit the grant applications. DOT distributes the FAA grant money.

Hartselle wants to use the money to purchase 8 acres in the glide path, construct hangars and replace the aging runway lighting system.

"If this fails, we're going to be in trouble," Johnson said, referring to the runway lights.

He said the lights have been at the airport 30 to 40 years, and parts are no longer available.

Councilman Mark Mizell tried to get the council to prioritize its requests in the application.

"We need to make sure they know that our greatest need is runway lights," he said.

Johnson said the FAA is already aware of lighting problems and will provide grant money for what is most important. He estimates that replacing the lights will cost about $140,000.

The city tried unsuccessfully last year to get federal aid for hangar expansion and land acquisition.

The Airport Board said it will cost almost $615,000 to construct 15 hangars. The airport has about 40 pilots waiting for hangars.

The glide path at the northern end of the runway has been an issue almost since the city constructed the airport. The FAA has recommended, but not mandated, that Hartselle acquire the property to prohibit additional residential construction.

Johnson said four residents own the 8 acres and have agreed to sell the land to the city.