Aviation Commission looks toward future

ALBANY -- Albany-Dougherty Aviation Commission Chairman William Mayher, who was re-elected recently to serve as the commission's chair for 2010, said this year will be a busy one for the commission and the airport.

"We've got a lot of things going," he said.

One project that is on the horizon for the Southwest Georgia Regional

Airport is replacement of the existing commercial service terminal building with a new state-of-the-art terminal and improving the surrounding terminal area. The terminal improvement project will include the construction of a 27,000-square-foot terminal building on the airside of the existing terminal. The commission plans to demolish the existing terminal building after work is completed.

Airport Director Yvette Aehle said the project includes other improvements such as a new aircraft parking apron, new parking lots, a new terminal drive and other curbside developments.

The contract for this project was awarded to The LPA Group Inc., which has asked the city of Albany to extend the contract for two additional years to allow for completion of the terminal complex improvements services.

The Aviation Commission has estimated the approximate amount of consulting fees to be paid to the LPA Group over the next two years is $2,116,000.

Aehle told the Commission the funding for the construction project, which is anticipated to cost between $15 million to $17 million, looks promising.

The Commission approved four work authorizations for the terminal project at its Tuesday meeting at an estimated cost of $915,878.

Construction on the terminal is expected to begin next year, Aehle said.

The airport director said most of the project's funding will be provided through the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program and Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax V funding.

Albany City Manager Alfred Lott warned the Commission that with the budget cuts rampant at the capitol in Atlanta, the Department of Transportation may not provide additional funding.

"From my perspective, all bets are off for assistance from the state," he said. "We need to be looking to support ourselves."

The Commission received an update on the airport's master plan from Jim Duguay of The LPA Group.

Duguay recommended transforming some of the airport's vacant land into space for hotels, restaurants, additional airport operations housing and air cargo hangars.

Mayher suggested that some of the space could be used to build a maintenance facility for aircraft.

"They (air carriers) could do maintenance (on aircraft) here," he

suggested. "It's cheaper to park an airplane here then (at any other airport)."

Aehle said the open space allows the airport room to grow in the future, but at this time businesses are not looking for open land.

"We have a lot of raw land but not a lot of buildings with utilities access," she said.

Aehle said most requests from outside sources ask for vacant structures with utilities already available.

The Commission swore in a new airport safety officer at the meeting. Anthony Wright said the road to the swearing-in ceremony was a long one.

"It takes a long time to get a safety officer through," agreed Aehle.