Marina to show off airport improvements
Marina today is marking the more than $2 million in improvements to the airport the city acquired in 1995 from the Army during the breakup of Fort Ord.
The airport runway is sporting new pavement, electrical gear, runway lights and taxiway direction signs.
The old fire station at the former Fritzsche Army Airfield has been renovated to provide the city with a second fire station that will expand into a full-time station as the city grows.
A new pilots lounge has been created in a hangar near the fueling area that will provide pilots a place to rest, wait for transportation and get information about lodging, restaurants and the weather.
“It’s another way to provide convenience for pilots using the airport,” said Christine di Iorio, the city’s community development director.
The runway upgrades make the airport “much safer, like it’s a real runway for a general aviation airport,” she said.
The runway and electrical upgrades cost about $1.6 million, with 95 percent of the funding coming from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The city hopes to receive another $2 million from the federal agency to make more improvements, including taxiway lighting and relocating the airport tower beacon, she said.
“Nothing (had) been done with the runway” since the Army conveyed the airport to the city, she said.
The pilots lounge cost $32,000 and the money came from the city’s airport operations fund.
The city obtained about $480,000 in federal stimulus funds to renovate the new fire station.
Initially, the station won’t be staffed around-the-clock. But it provides sorely needed “elbow room” for the Fire Department and will be “incrementally staffed” as the department grows, Fire Chief Harald Kelley said.
“That station allows us to expand as the city continues to grow, as it is going to grow,” Kelley said.
Marina’s major new projects on Fort Ord territory, which call for hundreds of new homes, stores, offices and other growth, have been stymied by the recession and real estate market slump.
The airport fire station, at the onset, likely will be staffed with a two-person engine crew during evening hours, when another engine crew is on duty at the Hillcrest Avenue station.
Having personnel at the airport station would reduce response times to the Abrams and Preston Park neighborhoods, the fire chief said.
The city is putting on a noon ceremony today at the airport to recognize the improvements, the airport’s history and to unveil a new monument sign.