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Ennis Daily News

Onward & upward

City, contractors confer on airport development project
There is still a long way to go with a replacement airport in Ennis, but city officials, along with members of Coffman Associates Airport Consultants, held a public hearing at the Ennis Public Library yesterday evening to allow residents a chance to understand what steps are next for the project.
Mayor Russell Thomas and City Manager Steve Howerton were on hand to answer questions on behalf of the city of Ennis, and Patrick Taylor and Mike Dmyterko represented the Coffman Associates.
“It’s been about a year,” Taylor said. “We thought it was important to let the people know we are still at it.”
With feasibility and site selection studies behind them, Coffman Associates will now work on a Master Plan and Environmental Study.
“December is when the Master Plan should be completed,” Taylor said. “And the Environmental Study, which is made from the Master Plan, could be done about April. It will be about a year from now when we are done with those studies.”
Taylor said the location still being considered is Site E, now just called the Motorplex Site due to its nearby location to the Texas Motorplex to the west. The plot of land being looked into is north of Hwy. 287, west of the current airport.
According to Taylor, Coffman Associates has submitted forms for new airport sites with the state, which will send inspectors to examine any reason to not put an airport at the proposed site.
Following approval of the Master Plan and Environmental Assessment, Taylor said a more formal FFA review would be conducted to approve the plans.
Howerton told the Ennis Economic Development Corporation last July the city had received a $350,000 grant from the state to use for an Environmental Study and Master Plan for the replacement airport.
A replacement airport would cost the city 10 percent of the projected overall price tag with both state and federal funding programs, including grants from TxDOT and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), absorbing the additional 90 percent. In addition, city leaders assert an increase in taxes will not be necessary to accomplish this project.
“The economic impact on the city is a big benefit,” Howerton said at the feasibility study meeting held in August 2005.
“This is a calculated investment that will give a calculated return.”
Ennis Municipal Airport currently provides a 4,000-foot runway, aircraft hangars and limited aviation services. According to Taylor, a community will typically expand an existing facility to meet projected aviation demands, but the current airport’s biggest constraint is its physical location.
Although the runway at Ennis measures 4,000 feet, its expansion proves a difficult achievement because of FM 1722 and Clark Lake.
A substantial investment in re-routing the road as well as the acquisition of more than 100 acres of land would be needed to expand the runway.
Clark Lake poses a significant challenge to any expansion because of soil conditions and wildlife.
The city recently had to improve the pavement at Ennis Municipal due to a hump on the runway caused by poor soil and drainage.
The cost of the construction was $900,000 and Dmyterko suspects this is a problem that will occur again, possibly before the end of the pavement’s useful life.
The lake also attracts several large waterfowl that can cause a significant danger for aircraft on approach to Runway 33 or departing Runway 15.
Howerton has said the replacement airport would be one of the key cornerstones of Ennis, along with the new Ennis Regional Medical Center, the completion and expansion of the 287 bypass and Ennis Industrial Park.

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Posted by on Jun 25 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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