Council May Axe Runway Extension

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Regular passenger service to Payson Municipal Airport won't happen if the town council goes along with a recommendation not to construct a 596-foot runway extension when it convenes at 6 p.m. Thursday at town hall.

The Airport Advisory Committee voted 7-0 to recommend the council kill the $5 million project, which would only cost the town $125,000 in matching funds. The Federal Aviation Administration would fund the project, with the town paying just 2.5 percent.

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Payson Municipal Airport manager Ted Anderson.

In a memo to the council, airport manager Ted Anderson said the primary reason the committee wants the runway extension nixed is concern over the number of houses and properties that would be impacted.

"Present and future businesses, residences and unoccupied properties (17 structures and 31 properties) are impacted with or without a runway extension," Anderson wrote. "The major difference is that about twice the structures and properties are affected with a runway extension."

In his presentation to the council, Anderson included an extensive list of pros and cons for the extension. Among the pros:

  • Safer departures.
  • Increased operation of large twin engines and jets during the summer months, although no change in the class of aircraft using the airport.
  • Enhanced future use of De-4 Type 1 air tankers, increasing the retardant payload from three to six times that of existing single engine air tankers (SEATS).
  • Small air carriers using Beech 1900 aircraft could provide passenger service to Payson.

The list of cons were related, for the most part, to the number of structures and properties impacted and the need to purchase some homes and properties. Anderson also noted the fact that the extension would require taking eight commercial lots in the Sky Park industrial complex.

"This could prevent smaller businesses from relocating to Payson," Anderson said.

The runway extension was included in the 1998 Airport Master Plan update approved by the town council, Airport Advisory Board (predecessor to the committee), FAA and the Aeronautics Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Since that time, however, the town has allowed homes and businesses to be built in runway protection and object-free zones.

Town Manager Fred Carpenter downplayed the significance of the extension, calling it a long shot that Payson would ever be serviced by a commercial carrier anyway.

"We're too close to the Valley now with the four lane roadway," he said. "Several of the services have looked at it, and it's just not practical. Some place like Show Low is, because it's three hours away, instead of just an hour."

Public transit decision

People may not be able to fly in or out of Payson, but they might be able to get around town by bus if the council decides to move forward on a public transit system Thursday evening.

A grant application must be submitted to ADOT by Feb. 25 if the town wants to implement the recommendations of the recently completed Public Transit Feasibility Study. The grant would pay up to 93 percent of capital costs, 80 percent of administrative costs, and 50 percent of operating and maintenance costs.

As proposed, the Payson system would use three buses operating on two routes. The buses would be similar to the bus operated by Mazatzal Casino.

Design review applicants

The town is accepting applications to serve on an ad-hoc design review committee for the town's commercial areas.

A recent presentation to the council by the committee that developed guidelines for Main Street called on the council to allow that body to serve as the town's design review board in developing a town-wide commercial ordinance. Instead, the council has opted to form a new committee.

Deadline to submit an application is Feb. 15 for appointment at the Feb. 24 council meeting. Applications are available at Payson Town Hall.

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