Calvert City works to secure funds to revitalize airport
Calvert City leaders want a local airport to thrive, with hopes of bringing money into the area.
"Not to utilize it and let it just deteriorate, just let it go away, seems to be a very foolish expenditure of tax payer dollars in the past," said Calvert City Mayor Lynn Jones.
For more than a year, Calvert City has considered managing the Kentucky Dam State Park Airport. It’s currently run by Kentucky State Parks, which can’t afford to expand it.
Badgett Playhouse in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, works with neighboring businesses to attract an audience for its shows.
"Being about 50 yards from the front doors or Patti’s is a big deal for us. We want someone to come into town, and the moment they come in, their experience starts," said Bill Minihan, who runs the playhouse.
He says he would love to see the traffic that traveled to Patti’s by air when the nearby Kentucky Dam State Park Airport was in its heyday.
"I know Calvert City is doing a lot of work over there with the parks, so that’s going to do nothing but benefit us and benefit the entire area," Minihan said.
Upgrades to the airport wouldn’t just give the playhouse more exposure. Jones says it would be an opportunity to attract investors.
Before taking over operations at this airport, the city wants to have funding for two improvements in place. One is putting fencing up to keep wildlife away, and the other is installing a fuel system.
"If they can’t fuel them when they come out of the hangar and fly, what good is the hangar?" Jones said.
The mayor says the Kentucky Department of Aviation has committed $750,000 to pay for fencing. Now, he’s negotiating with the Federal Aviation Administration in Memphis to pay for the fuel.
"We’re down to the final details, getting everything gathered together," Jones said.
Some improvements are already being made at the airport. The Kentucky Department of Aviation has already paid for improvements like new striping, new lighting and an environmental impact study.
The total cost of all upgrades is $2 million.
Once that funding has been committed, the mayor will put all of his research together and present it to city council. City council will then vote on this. He hopes that happens within the next few months.
If the city takes over management, it would lease the airport to an operator. The operator would provide a mechanic to run the fueling system and general operations.