Council updated on airport projects

Received $12 million worth of grants in five years

Airplanes line the tarmac at the Hollister Municipal Airport.

Council members Monday received a fly-by report on the Hollister Municipal Airport.

Airport Manager Mike Chambless reported out on capital improvement projects and revenue.

“Out of 194 airports in the state of California that are recognized by the (Federal Aviation Administration) and the State of California as important airports, we’re number 76 when it comes to the amount of based aircraft at the airport,” he said.

For perspective, Salinas Municipal Airport ranked 61, Watsonville Municipal Airport ranked 53 and San Martin Airport ranked 110, Chambless said.

“We’re number three in the region for runway length,” he said. “If you define our region as San Jose, Monterey and Los Banos. San Jose is number one, they have a 10,000 foot runway. Monterey is number two, they have a 7,300 foot runway and we are number three with a 6,350 foot runway. That’s really good when you’re trying to land something that goes fast.”

The number of airplanes registered at the Hollister Airport is 144, according to Chambless.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez circled back to the number of based aircraft later in the meeting. He learned all hangars at the airport meet required regulations and have aircraft in them.

“So the next step is going to be some additional hangars?” Velazquez asked. “I know we talked about that in the past.”

Chambless said that as the capital improvement fund reaches the proper amount, he planned to propose some executive hangars.

“I will not recommend that we build any more T hangars,” Chambless said. “That area of aviation is on the decline. The future of aviation is business aviation. So I’d recommend we put up four or five executive hangars. I already have three customers out the gate if I put them up tomorrow. And a vacancy of two of them wouldn’t last long.”

Other recent achievements at the airport include $12 million received in federal grants over the last five years, a total reconstruction of the primary runway, installation of 1.5 miles of storm drain system and the addition of one full time maintenance employee.

“In the previous year’s budget, you added one full-time equivalent maintenance worker to the airport,” Chambless said. “Bringing the total to two.”

Councilwoman Mickie Luna asked for clarification as to the number of full time city employees at the airport. Chambless said a total of three full-time equivalent city employees work at the airport.

“I’m a 0.3 employee of the airport,” Chambless said. “Thirty percent of my pay comes from the airport.”

In a slide presentation, Chambless presented a 17-year spread of airport revenues dating back to 1999.

“They’re going up,” he said. “I took over in 2007; the revenues were about $450,000. This year we’re projecting revenues of over $1 million.”

Chambless announced he planned to bring a capital improvement projects plan before the council in August.

“Our number one need are safety improvements to the taxiway system,” he said. “There’s about three different issues with the geometry. The way they laid them out in 1944 no longer matches standards in 2017 and the FAA would like them fixed. They’re willing to pay 90 percent of the cost to get them fixed.”

Other upcoming capital improvement projects include pavement maintenance and preservation of crosswind runway and taxiways, and safety area and runway protection zone improvements.

“The anticipated project cost for these projects is $10 million over the next five to seven years,” Chambless said. “Of that, $9 million would be federal money and $1 million would be local and state. Of that, $500,000 should be local and $500,000 should be state. Depending on the way the economy is, the state pulls their matching funds. They’re here this year, they’re gone the next. Obviously we try to compete each year.”

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