Sunday, October 7, 2007
County considers buying Angwin airport
By JESSE DUARTE
The St. Helena (CA) Star Napa County will soon embark on a study of the feasibility of purchasing the Angwin Airport from Pacific Union College. According to Napa County Airport Manager Martin Pehl, the Federal Aviation Administration requires such a study before providing federal funds for local airport acquisitions, and, Pehl added, federal funding is probably the only way the county would be able to purchase the airport. For years county officials have discussed buying the airport; the study is the first step toward entering a more formal phase of talks.
A contract with an aviation consultant to conduct the study is still in negotiation but should reach the Napa County Board of Supervisors in November, Pehl said.
The study would take about a year and be paid for by a $332,500 FAA grant. It will include a detailed inventory of the airport’s facilities, descriptions and estimates of what needs to be done to bring it into compliance with federal standards, a forecast of the airport’s future uses, preliminary environmental review and recommendations on the best way for the county to manage the airport.
In addition, a series of public workshops will be held to gather public input on the possible purchase.
The 60-acre Angwin Airport is the only airport Upvalley and its future could be jeopardized if PUC decides to sell the property. At 1,850 feet, the airport is above the fog line and offers pilots a clear landing when the Napa County Airport, at just 33 feet above sea level, is shrouded in fog.
School officials have expressed a willingness to sell the airport, but only to those who would continue to maintain it as such, not to those who would develop the property for other purposes.
A previous appraisal placed the airport’s value at $27.5 million.
The study doesn’t obligate the county to buy the airport, called Parrett Field, Pehl said. In fact, depending on the study’s findings, the county could decide to abandon the acquisition altogether.
The college uses the airport to run its aviation program and accommodate private flights.
President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have used it during separate visits tothe Napa Valley.
Vintner Randy Dunn recently headed up a drive to come up with $180,000 in donations for repaving. Thanks to that project, the runway again reaches the state-required width of 50 feet and offers a much smoother ride, said PUC aviation instructor Bill Price.