The runway at Paris Cox Field is in line for a $2.7 million upgrade with federal funds in 2022 if the City of Paris can come up with roughly $294,000 in local match money, Airport Advisory Board members learned at a meeting last week.
The project is part of a draft capital improvement program presented during a conference call by Texas Department of Transportation Aviation representative Kathy Cromwell, who is assigned to Cox Field as its aviation planner.
“Runway 1735 is way overdue for pavement maintenance, and it’s a pretty high priority,” Cromwell said, noting a TxDOT aviation engineer visited the airport recently to evaluate conditions. “The longer we wait, the quicker the pavement will begin to deteriorate.”
Initially, the city would need to provide a $19,000 match for $270,000 in engineering costs with design work scheduled to begin October 2021. Another $275,000 match would be due before construction begins in October 2022 on the $2.47 million maintenance project, Cromwell said.
At the Thursday meeting, Cromwell also talked about a $600,000 capital improvement request submitted by the city in May for a 375-foot taxiway extension and vehicle access to allow for new hangar construction. The request comes with a 10% match. Cromwell said design work on the project is planned for 2024 with construction planned for 2025.
Board members learned of an unexpected caveat for the taxiway extension project, however, when Cromwell explained federal funds could only be used for public projects. Local plans call for private investors to build new hangars.
“Taxiway extensions can only be used to access hangars that are publicly owned,” Cromwell said. “So the hangars that are built will need to be city owned, and the reason is that we want to make sure that any public funds that we are putting in are used for public purposes.”
When board members explained hangars built by private individuals on city-owned land revert back to the city after 30 years, Cromwell said she would need to check with a compliance officer.
“It’s a gray area, I am not sure if that is acceptable or not; I am going to consult with our compliance officer and get back with you,” Cromwell said. “This is not typically the way we run our hangar program but just because it is not typical it is not up to me to say this is not OK.”
“I think we are good,” board chairman Scott Avery said in wrapping up the discussion. “We all want this airport to thrive, so it is trying to figure out how to get the ‘yes’ with projects that can expand the capacity of the airport. The public won’t invest the money at the moment to expand hangars, and that is a fact.”
After Cromwell’s report, City Clerk Janice Ellis asked for board input on a hanger application along with an update to the waitlist policies to be brought to the board at its February meeting. The board also will review the airport’s capital improvement project and its current budget at the February meeting.