Alexander Field: Moving forward
By City Times staff
Continued from a previous edition
Airport manager Jeremy Sickler said that he believes funding for airport improvements came in as well as it did, due to the notoriety of Sand Valley. He said he put in funding requests for everything that they thought they would need to accommodate the expanding traffic.
“We had backing from economic development; we had backing from transportation; we had backing from tourism,’ Sickler said, “as well as our local representatives. They were knocking on every door that they could think of to build support and to build momentum over this in Madison.”
The requests totaled about 7.2 million.
“And that year, which would have been the budget that was approved for the 2017-18 biennium, we got $4 million,” he explained, “just earmarked money, which is over and above project money that we had coming from the state and from the feds as well. That was what really tipped the scale and made all of this possible. Then, we (airport officials) had some flexibility to make some big decisions about how we were going to develop the airport in the next couple of years.”
The airport completed work on the “short runway” in 2017.
“That was the first year that Sand Valley’s clients really emerged as a big user of the airport,” Sickler explained.
The $4 million plus from the state was used on projects completed in 2018-19.
“All brand new lights around the whole airport – all the paved surfaces have all new lights,” he explained. “A lot of new stormwater systems, because we’ve created so many impervious surfaces out here, so that where is the water going to go off the new asphalt.”
The primary runway, where all jets need to land, received a mill and overlay.
“That big runway was in pretty tough shape as well,” Sickler said. “It could have been reconstructed, but reconstructing that big of a runway, that would have been an all summer project. During Sand Valley’s formative year, we didn’t want to say, ‘okay, you’re not going to be able to get into this airport because we are shut down for reconstruction.’”
The overlay will last just 5-10 years, compared to a reconstruction which could last 30 years; but, the downtime would allow Sand Valley clients fly-in access.
But, work on the airport didn’t end there.
“Opportunities kept presenting themselves,” Sickler added, “and with those opportunities, more and more things were being done.”
Continued next week