Farmington wants to build aircraft canopy

Sept. 25, 2009


Sep. 25--FARMINGTON -- The city wants to spend $250,000 in state funding on a shaded outdoor shelter for airplanes before the state of New Mexico takes away the money to balance its budget.

The city wants to build a 300-foot-long, 45-foot-wide aircraft canopy with space for 14 private planes at the Four Corners Regional Airport, according to city documents. The shelter would approximately double the number of shaded spaces that already exist at the airport.

More than 100 general aviation aircraft are based at the airport, said Rod Hunt, director of the city's General Services department. Many are parked in hangars and shelters while others sit uncovered.

It's not known when construction would begin, and city councilors are supposed to review the project before it goes forward.

The shelter, with electrical outlets and lighting, would cost $213,000. The remaining money would fund lighting and electrical outlets for the older shaded shelters, according to the city. The city estimates it would make almost $8,000 every year renting spaces in the proposed shelter.

Airport Advisory Commission members Steve Thomas and Donal Key said they supported the shelters at a meeting Thursday.

Thomas said he knew pilots who wanted to move their planes from the hangars to an outdoor shelter.

Key and Thomas were the only two members who attended the meeting. Three other commission members, Jim Donald, Cliff Booton and Tony Bennett, did not attend.

The New Mexico Department

of Transportation approved the funding July last year, and the city was supposed to spend it on airport hangar improvements within five years, according to city documents.

But the city believes the state may pull back the grant to help fill a $400 million deficit in this year's budget.

The chances of the state withdrawing the funding if the city decided to build the shelters were "very slim," Hunt said.

The funding would have covered less than half the cost of a new airplane hangar, so the city couldn't build one, he said.

Steve Lynn: [email protected]