Movers and shakers in Amarillo, Texas, want to build a new airport in the community, catering to general aviation.
“We are calling it an industrial airpark,” said Ernie Houdashell, spokesman for the Randall County Airpark Advisory Committee. “It is basically an industrial park with an airport attached to it. We couldn’t really do it any other way. At the present time the county has an international airport and several private strips, but no public general aviation airport, which is odd because we have a quarter of a million people living here and at least 325 airplanes,” said Houdashell, who is a pilot.
The impetus behind building the industrial airpark is to bring more industry to the city — and therefore more jobs.
According to a feasibility study presented to the Randall County Airpark Advisory Committee, the new facility would require approximately two parcels of land, one measuring 1,000 acres and the other 80 acres. “We would only need about 400 or so for the airport, the rest would be for the industrial park,” he explained.
The scope of the industrial park has not been determined yet. Details about the airport also haven’t been determined, with the exception of the length of the runway.
“We are looking at a 6,500- to 7,000-foot main runway. We want to make sure we can get a G-IV in there if we want to,” said Houdashell, adding that the project is moving forward quickly.
“We are fast tracking,” he said. “We have only been after this two years. We have a grant request in to Senator (Kay Bailey) Hutchinson and we are going to site selection.”
The airport has the support of the Texas Department of Transportation, Houdashell added.
There is a perception in the area that the needs of general aviation are not currently being met, said Linda Howard, director of planning and programming for the Texas DOT Aviation Division.
“There are many privately owned airports in the area but because they are privately owned there is no guarantee that they will remain open if other needs dictate a use for the land,” she said.
Publicly owned airports, especially those that have accepted federal and state grants, are more difficult to close and therefore better protected.
Howard cautions the flying public that the creation of a new airport will take some time, but couldn’t say how much time.
“We will have to go through the process of site selection and, assuming a preferred site can be located, we will have to develop a master plan for it and do an environmental assessment and site engineering, followed by land acquisition. Finally, there will be the construction,” Howard said. “I can’t really tell you what the timeline for this would be because it all depends on the availability of funds and right now we have no idea what is out there.”
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