City in final phases of evaluating state park airport revitalization

Plans are in the works to revitalize the Kentucky Dam State Park Airport to bring more people into the area and create jobs for your family. For almost a year, Calvert City has been looking into management of the airport.

The airport is right in the middle of Paducah, Grand Rivers and Murray. That’s why Calvert City’s mayor says the entire region benefits when visitors use it. The mayor is in the final stages of evaluating the costs and benefits.

Patti’s 1880s Settlement owner Chip Tullar wants people to visit his family’s restaurant for more than a meal. 

"You create a memory and an experience. They go back and tell other people, and they come," said Tullar.

He remembers that years ago many of those people traveled to Patti’s 1880s Settlement by plane.

"It was important for almost any pilot that they could have a destination that they could go to where they could be picked up and be returned," Tullar said.

Patti’s shuttles customers to and from the airport. During the airport’s peak, it had to use three vans. Tullar says about 10 years ago he had about 60 more customers to pick up in the average weekend than he does now.

The airport now sits with no fuel supply, no mechanic, no guard and little hangar space.

"All of those amenities are necessary for you to be able to maximize the value. You know that we’re ready to put those together," said Calvert City Mayor Lynn Jones.

Jones wants to revamp the state-run airport to bring in the traffic that used to travel to the area by air. 

"Anything we do in our community that benefits the tourism industry and increases tourism provides jobs to local folks," Jones said.

To do that, the city would need to take over management from the state. Jones says the city is conducting a thorough study before any decisions are made. Tullar hopes those decisions come soon.

"If we want the lakes area to grow and this area to grow, it would be a very big asset to us," Tullar said.

Jones says if the airport has enough planes on site, it qualifies for about $120,000 in funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. Jones says the city will make sure the airport can qualify for that grant before taking over.

If the city votes in favor of taking over, it would sign a lease agreement. The city would be responsible for paying to run it and all the upgrades.

The mayor says he expects the city council to make the vote in early August.

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