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City to begin airport improvement plan
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There will soon be more than just take offs and landings happening at the Covington Municipal Airport.

The Covington City Council voted unanimously to begin a five-year Capital Improvement Plan beginning with the preparation for a new terminal in the year 2016-17.

Starting in fiscal year 2016, the plan will consist of utility relocation to the southeast apron and paving and lighting construction. Then in 2017, runway widening, approach lighting system and plans for the new terminal building will commence.

During the discussion of the first part of this plan, Mayor Ronnie Johnston asked if a design of the terminal could be done earlier. Since the terminal is being paid for by the city, Manager Leigh Anne Knight, said the terminal time-table is up to the council.

“The terminal building is all on us,” Knight said. “In order to get to that point some of this work needs to be done.
“We can move ahead with design for (the terminal) at any point.”

The council was unanimous about beginning the work, but wanted a design or something physical to show perspective businesses. The future terminal will have 7,000 square feet of space, as opposed to the current terminal which possesses 4,000 square feet, including a hangar.

“The sooner we start with conceptual issues to make sure we’re all on the same page, the better we’ll be,” said Dave Bernd, Vice President of Economic Development at the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce.

Bernd said there has already been one company interested in moving into the terminal, and others have looked at hangar space.

“If we get one company to invest and get 100 or 200 jobs than that’s a great start,” Johnston said. “I think when we get one hit, we’ll get more.”

The total cost of the CIP is expected to be $1.5 million, but that money has been either already applied for or will be by state and federal reimbursements. The land in and around the airport has already been purchased, with the city owning 450 acres for expansion.

“The money is in a reserve account, it would not come out of the general fund in any way,” Knight said.

Following 2017, a three-year update will be needed and phase two of the CIP will begin. That consists of runway widening, a T-Hangar building design, taxiays and concrete slab design and apron fuel facility construction. In 2019, the plan calls for T-Hangar building construction, maintenance hangar design and southeast apron construction. The final year of the five-year plan will see the maintenance hangar built, Williams Road development and southeast apron construction.