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County: Investing in Beatty Airport could benefit local economy

As several businesses expressed interest in the Beatty Airport recently, county officials said that investing in the facility and its surrounding infrastructure could be a boon for the local economy.

The main industries in Beatty, such as arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services, are mainly dependent on tourism in Beatty and surrounding areas, said Tim Carlo, director of the Nye County Department of Public Works.

“I think if we invest in basic amenities at the airport, we will see the fruits of our labor in increased tourism and possible long-term relationships with companies that provide jobs with an overall economic impact to Beatty,” Carlo said.

The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, or NIAS, short-listed the Beatty Airport as one of three potential sites for conducting testing for drones of 55 pounds or larger.

Several helicopter companies have contacted Nye County to use the Beatty Airport as a base for establishing flight tours to various locations in Death Valley National Park, including Titus Canyon and Furnace Creek.

Additionally, there is a growing interest from the film industry to conduct movie productions in the area. However, the current taxiway and hangar configurations are inadequate to meet the requirements of the clients that have expressed interest in using the airport, officials said.

“We have not received any specific offers as of yet. We have been working with NIAS for the use of the Beatty Airport. We have not received offers as of yet; they are just inquiring about amenities at the facility,” Carlo said.

The Nye County Department of Public Works proposed to implement $1.87 million worth of improvements to the Beatty Airport over the next five years, in accordance with its Airport Capital Improvement Plan.

Approximately $1.6 million of this amount is anticipated to be met through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and local funding. Nye County is requesting $250,000 in funding from the Community Development Block Grant program to design and construct a new 10,000-square-foot hangar at the Beatty Airport.

Overall revitalization of the Beatty Airport as identified in the improvement plan will be completed in multiple phases through 2022.

Improvements will entail the design and construction of up to two new hangars, new taxiway construction, taxiway and runway improvements, entryway upgrades and fuel system installation. The design and construction of a taxiway turnaround area for Runway 34 is currently underway and is expected to be completed in early 2017.

In addition to CDBG funding, up to $600,000 in federal and local funding will be leveraged toward the project in 2017.

Between 2018 and 2022, an additional $1.02 million in federal and local funding is anticipated to be leveraged toward further improvements at the airport, including the installation of an automatic entrance gate, additional runway rehabilitation activities, and a 12,000-gallon self-serve fuel tank. An automated weather observation system will be designed and constructed through 2020.

“We invest money through a FAA grant process in which we pay 6.25 percent of the overall price of the project. Last year, we replaced an old, worn-out beacon tower with a new one that folds down for safety. The grant amount was $100,000 in which the county had to pay $6,250 in match money, and the remaining $93,750 was paid by FAA grant,” Carlo said.

“In the coming years, we are hopeful the FAA will continue to support our grant efforts and fund several projects. The taxiway turnaround is scheduled for 2018 as part of the FAA grant process,” he added.

The airport averages about 74 flights per month, and Carlo said development of the airport could attract more aircraft to the facility.

“These improvements will certainly increase flights,” he said.

Construction of a 10,000-square-foot hangar adjacent to the new taxiway turnaround area will allow operations, activities, and storage space for new businesses, officials said. Similarly, the concentration of hotel accommodations and restaurant establishments in Beatty could draw customers to those aviation-based businesses that have contacted Nye County.

“The synergistic relationship between the town’s existing amenities and expanded aviation facilities would allow diversification of the local economy through both direct and indirect services while expanding upon Beatty’s established tourism and recreation-driven economy,” officials said.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

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