By JESSE B. GILL Staff Writer REDLANDS
On Tuesday the City Council approved a plan that could increase the activity at Redlands Municipal Airport. The council voted unanimously to approve the new Airport Master Plan. City Airport Manager Todd Housley presented the plan, which proposes to expand the airport’s capacity to about 350 aircraft and 149,000 flights per year. A city staff report said the airport now services about 82,000 flights per year. The plan was prepared by Coffman Associates Inc., an airport consulting firm.
"This collective effort seeks to ensure that the airport is well positioned, should the City Council decide to expand the airport’s services in the future," Housley said.
The plan took 24 months and $148,000 to draft. A city staff report said the city has been billed for $121,476, but $115,402 of that has been reimbursed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA will have paid for 95 percent of the total project costs by the time the city receives the final document. The Airport Administration Program fund will cover the remaining 5 percent.
"There will be no impact on the (city’s) General Fund," Housley said.
Chris Hugunin, of Coffmann Associates, said the new master plan dealt only with the current boundaries of the airport.
"We want to make the plan flexible so that you’re not actually going out and developing something that you don’t need," Hugunin said.
The FAA recommends occasional updates to airports’ master plans, the staff report said. Redlands Municipal Airport was last updated in November 1993.
The council’s approval of the plan does not mean that any airport development projects will automatically get under way.
Housley said the plan allows the council a measure of flexibility, should it decided to change direction for the airport in the future. It also does not force the council’s hand to move on any capital improvement projects until the time is right.
"Approval of this document does not bind the council to do anything described within," Housley said. "This does not start the clock on any of the projects mentioned in the document."
Housley said any major development project would have to undergo the same process as any other project.
Mayor Pro Tem Pat Gilbreath said the new master plan will help protect Redlands’ airspace.
"As San Bernardino (International Airport) continues to develop, they’re going to have some higher use over there eventually," she said. "And we really don’t want them over the city of Redlands. If nothing else, this is a defense mechanism that protects our airspace."
The new master plan will be necessary for the city to receive future FAA and state grant money.
"It demonstrates to the FAA that we have performed significant review of potential projects, should we decide to pursue them," Housley said.
In July, city Quality of Life Director Gary Van Dorst said that the airport had operated in the red for many years, and this positive change comes from the fact that Redlands owns its own hangars at the airport. Tenants pay rent to use the hangars, just as a renter would pay rent for a living space.
Because the city was able to end its business with hangar owners with agreements below market value, the city was able to acquire 29 hangars of the airport’s total 150, and lease them to tenants without a middleman at the previous rental rates.
Van Dorst said that the city’s acquisition of the 29 hangars required the airport to take on some debt, but through the money tenants pay to lease their hangar space, the airport is now able to pay debt service instead of drawing on the city’s General Fund.
"We have turned it around," Van Dorst said.
Robert and Lorraine Kanaga built the airport in 1947. The Kanagas owned and operated the airport until 1950.
There are no available records that detail the airport’s ownership between 1952 to 1960, said A.K. Smiley Public Library Archivist Don McCue in July.
The city bought the airport in 1962 and gave it its current name.
The runway is 4,570 feet long and 75 feet wide, a standard that was set between 1977 and 1978.