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Board hears scaled back airport plans

On the town’s radar for more than two decades, local officials are still working to build a general aviation airport in Pahrump.

The Pahrump Town Board revisited the issue during this week’s regular meeting.

Board members discussed approving an Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant submission for phase two of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS).

The tasks within the phase according to town officials would not have exceeded $132,000, or 6.25 percent of the total $2.1 million grant.

Town Manager Susan Holecheck told the board the agenda item was hastily submitted to meet a June 30 cost analysis deadline mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The town’s consultant, Landrum and Brown, was also required to complete the cost analysis, which had to be comparable to that of the town’s.

Holecheck said after discussions with FAA officials, she learned that the AIP grant would be substantially reduced from the original amount.

“We would not know what the next grant to apply for was until we had done the cost analysis. We had to be within 10 percent of Landrum and Brown’s figure, both in totality and per task. It turns out that we were in fact within 10 percent, which indicated you were looking at $2.1 million. Obviously the federal government was probably not going to be in a position to pay for that type of a grant,” she said.

There were originally 12 tasks associated with the second phase of the project, ranging from management to base mapping and study area refinement.

The town manager said due to the reduction of the proposed grant those tasks will have to be slightly scaled back.

“The grant in totality that we are now talking about tonight is $616,955. We did add in some town administrative costs for the contract that may not have been added in before just to keep us on the safe side,” she said.

Breaking down the latest figures show the federal share of the grant request is 93.75 percent, or $580,739, while the town’s share will total 6.25 percent, or $38,716.

Holecheck said since the town has been working on the project for nearly 30 years, it would be foolhardy to abandon it after so much hard work and time has been devoted to it.

“I would certainly hate to see us stop now. We need to go forward on this,” she said.

Town Vice Chair Bill Dolan asked Commissioner Butch Borasky if the county was on board with the airport project, which saw a brief, but testy exchange between the two.

His inquiry appeared to speak directly to the tumult between town and county.

“Does that mean as of today, yes and come January first, no? I’m just trying to follow up on what you said. As of today?” Dolan asked.

“Don’t go there.” the commissioner sternly replied. “As of the last conversation we had, we agreed to back it up. Yes, that’s what I said, as of today,” responded Borasky.

The agenda item has some community support.

Pahrump resident Stan Davis, a pilot on the airport planning committee since the mid-90s, said since other smaller locations in Nye County have general aviation facilities of their own, so should Pahrump.

“A general aviation airport is a very, very positive development for any town. This county has three airports now. Tonopah has one-third of the population of Pahrump. Beatty has less than a thousand people and Gabbs has less than 300 people of the population. They all have airports and the county has submitted money to maintain and improve all three of those airports,” he said.

Davis also said the construction of an airport will invite additional business and industry into the area.

Charles Wagner also enumerated the benefits associated with an airport in Pahrump.

Wagner is on the board of directors of the Calvada Aeropark Association, which operates a small privately owned airport on the north end of town.

“I happen to be the individual whose phone number is on the website. Anybody who wants to land there, they call me and I wish they’d call you so you would understand how many people want to land here. We try to accommodate them when we can,” he said.

Holecheck, meanwhile, cautioned that much more work needs to be completed before any ground is broken at the proposed site along Gamebird Road.

“The reality is we are not going to be able to start construction on this until maybe 2017, with a grand opening of 2020 and that’s provided that everything goes well,” she said.

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