Brookings officials are delving into the development of a five-year plan for the airport now that it has been officially acquired from Curry County.
The city has already been maintaining the facility at the end of Parkview Avenue, including mowing weeds and grasses and ensuring the runway and other elements are in good order, Deputy Public Works and Development Director Jay Trost told the city council in a workshop Tuesday afternoon.
The city plans to work with Century West with the planning process and is ready to submit a request for engineers for any work deemed needed.
The Federal Aviation Administration pays for 90 percent of grants in the master plan and 90 percent of the remaining costs are paid for by the Critical Oregon Area Relief program.
“The city pays about 1 percent in the end,” Trost said. “It’s very expensive when you do airport plans — runways, taxi area, aprons. To have these grants to offset that is huge.”
The plan will take about 18 months to generate, and will involve assessing current conditions, and preparing and implementing projects. Two public comment periods will be held during the process.
“The (assessment) should be pretty easy,” he said, adding that many Century West employees are former employees of the county. “We have a very good understanding of where things stand and where we are in terms of infrastructure.”
The infrastructure there is rated “good,” Trost said, noting that the mild climate here doesn’t damage the concrete as it does in cities that see severe heat or cold.
The county was financially incapable of doing all but the most basic maintenance there — although it succeeded in getting a grant to build a perimeter fence to keep deer off the runway — and was losing about $58,000 each year, they said in 2016.
A leak under the runway was discovered in January 2016 and the water shut off, which resulted in no water for the restrooms or to wash planes. The source of the leak, which was never found, jacked the monthly water bill from about $29 a month to more than $350, according to county officials at the time. Pipes in the area were laid by a volunteer crew and not platted on maps.
The city has expressed its interest in acquiring the facility for years in hopes of developing light industrial uses and expanding its amenities to attract business and more pilots.
By working with the Brookings Flying Club, the city will be better situated to determine what other work might need to be done. Club board members could not be reached for comment.
“The board has been very active with me,” Trost said, adding that he plans to continue that dialogue.
Councilor Ron Hedenskog reiterated the importance of that, noting the club often went years without talking with county commissioners about issues at the facility.
“When (former City Manager) Gary (Milliman) and I were up there, it was total chaos,” he said. “Things hadn’t even been talked about.”
Trost admitted that the regional airport will never draw a huge clientele, primarily because of the constraints on the length of the runways. Extending them, the FAA said last year, would require the construction of a tunnel at the north end of the runway through which vehicles could travel, which could be prohibitively expensive.