By JESSIE HORTON
DUBLIN (October 18, 2016) – There are big things happening at the Dublin Airport and the work and improvements were a major topic of discussion at the Dublin City Council meeting Monday.
Councilwoman Sarah McCann, who is on the Airport Committee, presented several options to the council for discussion including the WDT trucking school from the September meeting. McCann said after talking to other municipalities who have done similar things, she wasn’t sure the school was right for the Dublin Airport. Councilman Layne Golden said he’d also had concerns and called TXDOT Aviation, who manages a number of grants associated with the airport.
“Everyone I spoke to with TXDOT Aviation said there are exemptions for non-flying uses for an airport receiving state-funded grants,” Golden reported. “However, a trucking school was an unequivocal no. Not only that, but we may even have to pay back the latest Ramp Grant we received if we choose to move forward with the trucking school.”
After agreeing the trucking school was no longer a viable option for added income, the council heard from Bob Brayton, an airport and aviation consultant who has been assisting McCann with her work, as well as Dublin resident Brad Stanford.
Brayton advised the council he and McCann had looked at several options for the city of Dublin and the airport. He said with the acceptance of the latest grant the council voted to go out for he believes the funds will allow the city to make much needed improvements to draw pilots to the airport and the city.
“Currently, there is gravel on the runway and in the tie-down area, the airport is unattended and in places unsecured, there’s no way to refuel and there’s no GPS landing availability, just to name a few,” Brayton said. “Almost everything could be repaired or brought up to date with the 90/10 grant you just approved to go out for. But it’s important to remember refueling stations are very costly. A large number of other items could be handled with less than the high end of this match grant and the city could start seeing planes out there regularly. More planes can mean more income and thus allow for further expansion in the future.”
He also presented a number of options to bring pilots to Dublin including offering a package to pilots allowing them to land at the airport, be shuttled or taxied into town for an event or to a restaurant for a meal and (for example) a tour of the Dublin Bottling Works museum and factory. Another option is to bring in a flight school or someone who gives lessons, Brayton said. Adding this is one of the easiest ways to get the word out about an airport and bring revenue into the city. Another suggestion included leasing space to an airplane mechanic.
“With the mechanic there, or someone who specializes in some type of airplane work, pilots will come to have their machines worked on and will spend time in town while there work is going on,” Brayton said. “This will not only bring them to town, but also get them used to coming to the Dublin Airport and looking for events here.”
Stanford also had a suggestion for the airport.
“When I heard the council was looking for ways to utilize the airport and to have someone out there more regularly, I thought we might be able to help one another,” Stanford said. “I’ve been working from home for several years and have been planning on getting back into an office. The airport has an office that isn’t being used and the airport needs to be attended. I think I can help with both by moving my office into the airport office. That way someone would be there during work hours, at the very least. And who knows, maybe I can help with some things out there, too.”
The council, seemingly pleased with the progress McCann and the committee were making, voted to send all options to the Airport Committee for further discussion at the Nov. 1 committee meeting. McCann will then present the committee’s plan at the November council meeting.
In other business, the council swore in Cliff Jackson who was appointed to serve the unexpired term in Ward 2 and honored Darrell Curry, who resigned his seat, for his four terms of service to the community. Curry, the youngest person ever to serve on the council, was elected in 2007 and has served four two-year terms before moving outside the city limits when his home was badly damaged in the last major storm.
“Darrell wanted to resign his seat a few months ago, right after he had to move, but we weren’t able to find a suitable replacement until recently, so we asked him to stay on and help out until we got someone to replace him,” Dublin Mayor David Leatherwood said following the September meeting.
Both the police department and the fire department are currently working on grants to improve their equipment. Chief Michael Jennings reported he was working with grant providers to get the radio equipment for the repaired police station secured but the delay in work on the building has put a kink in the grant, but he continues to work with the provider.
Paul Warner reported the fire department’s brush truck, which has a bed built in 1947, must be replaced. The Dublin Fire Department has worked with other county departments to secure a grant for a big brush truck. Warner reported the grant would need a match of $22,000, but the department has the funds in the budget from the county, who provides funds to all volunteer departments providing mutual aid throughout the year.
Several other items on the agenda pertained to grants and TML insurance items, which Dublin City Administrator Nancy Wooldridge reported on.
The council approved GrantWorks as the city’s administrative service provider and Jacobs and Martin Engineering as the city’s engineering service provider for 2017-2018. While Jacobs and Martin were not the city’s engineering service for previous years, they worked closely with the city in 2016-2017 with much success, Wooldridge reported.
Wooldridge also gave a report on the progress with TML insurance and the repairs to the city structures. According to Wooldridge there are 34 ‘entities’ owned by the city that were damaged in the storm including major buildings like the police department and city hall building down to the ground-up brick used on the softball infield at the city park.
“Eighteen months ago, when the first storm hit, I met with the TML insurance adjuster and he gave us an estimate of $37,000 in damages,” Wooldridge reported. “To date the city has collected more than $2 million and I believe we will see approximately $800,000 more from TML. The damage has been extensive and we are getting all this repaired at almost no cost to our taxpayers, which is a blessing.”
Work continues on city entities, but also continues where damage was not done by storms. According to City Secretary Rhonda Williams, volunteers continue to work on the city’s parks to renovate them and help rejuvenate the community. Volunteer Ben Pate and Williams are working on the gazebo at the city park as well as the basketball court this week – washing, repairing and repainting the facilities.