After a final review by several government agencies, Rick Patton from GDA Engineers will present a new airport master plan that lays out the city’s intentions for the general aviation airport to the Mesquite city council for its approval.
Patton held a fourth public meeting on Dec. 8 to lay out his findings from a year-long review of where the airport is now and what improvements need to be made.
“There is an invisible field around the airport that we don’t want to disturb with tall buildings or structures like cell phone towers that could present a danger to aircraft using the facility,” Patton said. “We used to want small airports like Mesquite’s surrounded by things like golf courses or lakes and ponds. Now we don’t. Those things tend to attract geese and other birds that present problems for small aircraft.”
He said that the current housing developments around the airport like Vista Del Monte are marginally acceptable as long as they stay as low-density housing.
New fencing is planned around the perimeter of the airport and according to Mesquite Public Works Director Bill Tanner, construction of it should begin in 2017. “We will probably bid the job out in the summer and then build it in the dormant season for the desert tortoise,” Tanner said. The design of the fence is about 90 percent complete and is intended to keep wildlife away from the runways and facilities. A new security gate will also be installed near the current entrance.
Patton also explained that the current runway length is acceptable for the type of airplanes that use the airport. “An extension is not needed right now. It’s a community decision on when to extend it. Any surface extension will not cross the Nevada Arizona stateline but a dirt safety area would extend into Arizona.
Patton and Tanner both emphasized that Mesquite’s airport, for its size, is one of the very few in the country that runs in the black. “As a community, you are doing very well,” Patton said.
“We have run in the black since 2011,” Tanner said. He explained that most of the revenue generated by the airport comes from fuel sales to transiting aircraft. “The BLM leases hangar space from the city that generates $14,000 a year. They only fly out of our airport about three months of the year when they are in helping fight wildfires. Mercy Air also leases space from us and buys our fuel. We also generate income from the skydiving club.”
The City has $305,307 budgeted in the FY 15-16 Airport Special Revenue Fund to the Master Plan update. The FAA will reimburse the City, not to exceed $300,000 leaving the City responsible for any additional costs associated with the update.