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Airport manager Zechariah Papp indicates areas of potential expansion of the Salida Airport, which lie within the Airport Protection Area. Dan Smith photo.

Some Salida Airport priorities have come under scrutiny as both city and county wade into future budget planning.

Airport Manager Zech Papp said in conference with Salida officials, who begin the budget process a little earlier than Chaffee County, that there was a surprised reaction over one of the imperative projects for 2024 – the replacement of the fuel farm system at Harriet Alexander Field.

Also on the front burner for Papp is planning for the renewal of the Salida Airport air show, set for September, 2023.

Papp said if he had been included in more consultations over which projects, some under Federal Aviation Administration regulation, were imperative for the continued operation of the airport, such expenditures might not have been a surprise to budget planners.

The fuel farm, according to Papp, will require about a $1.8 million expenditure to replace the system. There are current issues tied to potential leaks underground and it is not in compliance with FAA rules. From the airport’s perspective, upgrading to an above-ground tank is imperative.

Papp said he and county officials have worked up a Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) state grant application for about half the cost. The remainder will have to come from county and city dollars.

In addition, Papp told the Airport Advisory Board at its last meeting that moving the Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) on the field is on track for later this fall. Contracts have been signed and a grant procured for moving the unit to the north side with underground electrical service extended under the main runways in conduits.

The needed shop building expansion to store equipment inside has been put on a back burner for now, Papp said, due to the severity of the fuel farm situation.

Papp has provided officials with a list of project needs for the next 10 years. These include state and federally-funded projects and local project needs to aid future planning.

The 2023 AWOS project is estimated at $400,000 approximately,

Coming next year (with a $314,000 discretionary grant from the state) is the needed taxiway extension environmental, engineering and design phase.  In 2025, the construction phase will run nearly two million dollars, from a federal Airport Improvement Project (AIP) of $600,000, plus rollover of earlier AIP grants and infrastructure grants at $159,000 annually over five years. One of those years’ allocations is earmarked for the AWOS project, the remaining four earmarked for the 2025 taxiway extension.

In addition, there will be a $500,000 discretionary state grant, with a five percent match of state to federal dollars and five percent match from city and county funds. Projections for 2028 will have a phase two extension of the taxiway, parallel to the main east-west runway, he said.

In the near future, new security and wildlife fence will be required and 2031 will also see a new airport master plan update.

There are 29 hangars in existence now, and with the taxiway extension, Papp said he has letters of intent for the construction of 32 more hangars in the future.

The next major event at Harriet Alexander Field is the Air Show now set for Sept. 16. There will be a number of performers including Dagmar Kress, with her biplane. Bob Freeman and other acts are yet to be lined up to perform.

Also in attendance, Papp said will be Eric Lindberg, grandson of the Charles Lindberg aviation pioneer who first flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean in the 1920s.

The Knights of Columbus plan a pancake breakfast to be held in conjunction with the airshow.

Jim Oglesby will have a popular flight simulator for public demonstration. Full details on the airshow will be publicized soon.

The airshow event has some sponsors and is looking for more, Papp noted.