City receives airport grant

By PAT BROWN,

The City of Magee has been awarded a $1.54 million grant for improvements to the runways at the Magee airport.

The good news is that the city’s share of the cost is only going to be about $10,000.   Ninety percent of the cost will be funded through federal grant and the remainder will come through grants from the state. 

The funds will be spent to build up the end of runway 36, which will need to be raised 3 to 4 feet to allow for proper line of sight.  At present because of the drop in grade pilots cannot see from one end of the runway to the other. 

Keafur Grimes with Barge Engineering, the  group that works with the city on the airport, was on hand to discuss the project and answer questions at last week’s meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. 

Local pilots asked questions about the funding.  Gerald Brown of Magee inquired as to what would happen to funds if the project came in under the estimated amount.  Grimes responded that there would not be an excess of funds; the grant would only be for the amount needed for the project. Gerald Regel, another Magee private pilot, asked how long the airport may be closed and whether planes should be housed elsewhere.  Grimes responded that the plan calls for 120 days of work but that it would not take that long and the terminal would only be out of service for a short period. He said the runway would need to cure before striping was put down.  Grimes said this would be probably 30 days.  He went on to say that the airport could be used during this period.   He added that the original request had asked for the airport to remain open during the work, but it was refused by the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration. 

Brien Hubbard asked what the long range plans are for the airport.  Alderman Whitney Baker said the Airport Sub-committee is planning to hold a meeting  in August and wants to invite pilots for their input for long range  goals.  The date of the meeting has not been set.  

Grimes said bids for the project would be submitted in July. 

In other business, Mayor Dale Berry explained to the board that planned water repairs were delayed because the city must first report to 811, the organization responsible for locating utilities, before the city can dig to locate the leaks.  Berry cautioned that it could cost the city a lot of money if they strike other utilities like fiber optics.  Berry also said that the city has a loop system, which makes it unnecessary to issue boil water alerts if a line is broken. 

The city is considering privatizing grass cutting in the city limits.  Berry listed the medians on Highway 49, the city parks and the city cemetery as areas which have to be mowed and discussed a mowing schedule.

The board plans to offer the lawn service for bid by project.  Initial plans call for Highway 49, city cemetery, McNair Springs and the YMCA.  These options will be advertised and offered for bid.  

Alderman Lane Steel noted that those who are interested in bidding would need to be bonded and insured.  Other discussion focused on the fact that subcontracting the service would allow city employees more time to focus on other work projects. 

Joe Worrell reported to the board about unkept properties.  The board instructed him to take the violators to city court after they were given due notice and did not act on city recommendations for clean up. 

The board approved the adoption of phase three of the Cypress Point subdivision, a housing development on the northwest side of the city.  This will be the installation of water and sewer lines.  The property is currently owned and being developed by Chris Lane.  According to Berry the city will install the lines but the cost of the lines for water and sewer will be at  Lane’s expense.  The approval was pending the city attorney’s approval of all paperwork being properly filed.