Florala airport hires firm for planning

Published 12:04 am Friday, July 8, 2011

The Florala Airport Authority Board voted Thursday to contract with a Montgomery-based engineering firm to design a long-range plan for the Florala Municipal Airport. The decision will allow the airport to now apply for an estimated $150,000 in Federal Aviation Administration funds.

There were six proposals submitted for consideration; however, after scoring each proposal, board chairman Ricky Suggs and board member John Gardner unanimously voted to hire Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood. The firm also has an office in Andalusia.

Al Allenback, the GMC representative, said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do. One of our first moves will be to get a survey (of the property) and get a better idea of (the board’s) vision.”

Allenback said FAA grant paperwork must be filed by Aug. 1.

“Typically, these funds are awarded July 1, but things are running a little behind this year,” he said. “That will hopefully work in our favor. The announcement should be made between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30.”

He said airports of Florala’s size generally qualify for funds under the FAA’s airport improvement program, with 95 percent of the funds paid from the FAA, 2.5 percent from the state and 2.5 percent from the community.

“That’s the benefit of this program – the small amount for the community,” he said. “For very little investment, a huge return can be gained at the airport. I tell people that the greatest street in town is the airport runway.”

Board attorney Wes Laird said work will now begin on a master plan for the airport property. He said previously board members hoped to extend the current 3,300-foot runway to 6,000 feet and bring more industrial development to the airport site.

Currently, the only tenant at the airport is Sunshine Aerospace, Inc., an aircraft fueling operation. The board and Sunshine Aero officials are in the process of renegotiating the business’ lease for its current 10-acre site. Laird said the FAA and the Alabama Department of Transportation have not approved the proposed lease, but he hopes to have a final approved copy and the new lease in place in the coming weeks.