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New fuel system planned for Tonopah Airport

The Tonopah Airport is set to see an all new fuel system following the awarding of a Community Development Block Grant by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Nye County Public Works Director Tom Bolling, standing in for utility superintendent Darren Tuck, said the county was originally hoping for a $600,000 award. However, with just shy of $3 million available for this year’s CDBG cycle and more than a dozen other applications totaling nearly $6 million, the state was not able to fully fund Nye County’s request. Instead, the county was awarded $500,000 which will go a long way toward moving the fuel station project forward, with the county only needing to cover about $150,000 of the estimated $660,000 price tag.

Nye County Contracts and Grant Manager Stephani Elliott also noted that the $150,000 that the county will need to pay is already available in the Airport Fund.

“Because of some of the FAA grants that we have been awarded, some of the allocated funding that you’ve already approved out of the airport fund will now be reduced, because we have grant money to pay for that. So we are not asking for any additional funding… we’ve actually got the funding set aside in the airport fund and we won’t need to take any additional funds from the general fund,” Elliott told commissioners during their June 27 meeting.

The remaining $10,000 in cost is the county’s in-kind match requirement, which is to be covered through county-led construction management and grant administration.

“This project is vital to Tonopah and the surrounding area, by addressing an urgent need that could be a serious and immediate threat to the health and welfare of the community. Tonopah Airport has an existing fuel station with 40-50 year-old tanks that are out of compliance. The dispensing equipment is also aged and not up to today’s standards,” information provided with the agenda item details.

Bolling added that the current Fixed Base Operator, or FBO, manager is nearing retirement and when he goes, those old tanks must be attended to. “His fuel systems need to go bye-bye because they are antiquated and they need to be discharged, removed basically,” Bolling said.

Outside of the potential hazard created by the existing system itself, fuel availability at the Tonopah Airport is crucial for the continuation of an assortment of services. “The area is dependent on the airport for many services, such as air ambulance, BLM and Forest Service firefighting aircraft, Fish and Wildlife aircraft, UPS aircraft, military aircraft, mining and other corporate aircraft,” the agenda item reads. “The airport is a popular fueling hub for en-route private aircraft and hosts annual glider events.”

The project allows for the design, permitting, engineering and installation of an entirely new fuel system, to consist of two 12,000-gallon, UL 2085 fireguard tanks, along with retail sales equipment. The system will provide both 100LL and Jet A fuels, with self-serve and full-service options available.

Nye County Commissioner Debra Strickland was the only board member with a question that afternoon, asking if the county could see any kind of return on investment for the project. Bolling replied that the county would likely see a small profit and the county could see a return on its $150,000 investment in around five years.

“Tonopah is centrally and strategically located in the state so it makes absolute sense to award the grant to the Tonopah Airport,” commission chair Bruce Jabbour stated.

The grant agreement period runs from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025, giving the county two full years to complete the project.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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