UNION COUNTY — The Union County Airport will use a $150,000 allocation from the Federal Aviation Administration to help purchase some adjacent properties as part of its expansion plans.
Airport Director Ronnie Wade said Friday that in July he received a call from the office of US Sen. Lindsey Graham informing him that the FAA had awarded the airport $150,000. He said that shortly after that Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair was given a letter by Graham’s office confirming the allocation.
Wade said that those funds, along with $73,000 left over from a previous FAA allocation, will be used to help purchase land adjacent to the airport. He said the airport is looking to acquire the properties in order to clear cut them as part of its efforts to eventually lengthen the runway from its current length of 3,500 feet to 5,000 feet. Once it reaches that length, the airport will be able to accommodate corporate jets which currently must land in Spartanburg County even if their destination is Union County.
Earlier this year, Wade announced that the airport was clearing 100 acres of land including 75 acres owned by the county and 25 acres the airport had either acquired outright or had acquired the right to clear cut from its owners. The clearing of those properties was also designed to help facilitate the lengthening of the runway as well as enable aircraft to approach and land at the airport in inclement weather when visibility is limited. With the property cleared of trees and other potential obstructions, aircraft equipped with GPS are able to make what is known as a “non-precision landing” in inclement weather from both ends of the runway without guidance from the ground.
Wade said Friday this process is continuing as the airport is continuing its efforts to work to acquire and clear property as part of is expansion plans. He briefed Union County Council on the latest steps in this effort during a special meeting Thursday evening, asking for authorization to proceed with the acquisition process.
Council responded to Wade’s request by voting unanimously to allow the procedures of acquisition of property connected to the airport in support of the airport’s current improvement plan.
Wade added FAA funds cover 90 percent of the cost of any airport improvement project with the balance divided between state and local funding. He said this was the case in previous improvement projects at the airport and will be the case with the latest round of improvement efforts.
In a related matter, council also voted unanimously to allocate $4,300 from its contingency fund for the purchase of a golf cart for the airport.
Wade said that he’d originally requested funds for a new golf cart which would be used to tow aircraft in his airport budget he presented to council earlier this year. The item was deleted from the budget in favor of repairing the existing golf cart, but Wade said that he determined that it would cost $1,700 to make the needed repairs to the 15-year-old vehicle, so he again asked council for a new golf cart which was approved Thursday.