City Council Approves Federal Grant Submission for Airport Plan, Funding

Brandon/TurlockCityNews.com

A motion to generate more funds for the Turlock Municipal Airport through a grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) passed City Council Tuesday.

Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Manager Allison Van Guilder presented a resolution to generate more funds for the Turlock Municipal Airport at Tuesday, as part of her relatively new duties as liaison between the city and airport.

The City of Turlock is contracted with the Turlock Regional Aviation Association (TRAA) to manage the operations at the airport.

“The reason that this item is before you is per our agreement in the grants, whether it be state or federal, must come through this body for approval,” said Van Guilder.

This is because, according to Van Guilder, it is the city entering into the grant agreements because it is city property.

The funding requested is to be used for the purpose of an Airport Layout Plan (ALP) update as the last plan was made in 2008. Any future development at the airport is dependent on grant funding for revenue generated by the managing group, and essentially no general fund dollars are allocated for airport improvement projects.

As Van Guilder explained, TRAA is motivated to identify ways to generate revenue such as grants and opportunities other than the revenue they get from their hangar rentals at the airport.

“So essentially what this plan will do for the TRAA and the city, [is] allow us to update the plan to more clearly define the aviation-use areas at the airport as well as the non-aviation use areas,” said Van Guilder.

This is important, she explained, because in the non-aviation areas there is potential opportunity for generating revenue. Van Guilder said that agricultural leases and storage leases have been discussed as ideas for potential non-aviation use areas.

“In working through these potential opportunities we’ve been engaged with the FAA and it became clear early on that there were issues relative to the existing ALP,” said Van Guilder.

In other words the most current plan, drawn up in 2008, designated some of the desirable areas for aviation-only, meaning no potential for revenue. In terms of development, some of the advances of the outdated plan actually looked too far in the future. The 2008 ALP included an additional, future runway that as Van Guilder frankly stated, is simply not needed at this time given the relatively low volume of traffic the Turlock Municipal Airport sees.

“It might sound a little bit like we’re back tracking but I think I would look at it more like we’re taking a more realistic approach,” said Van Guilder. “The need for a future additional runway is probably not something that we’re going to need in the next 10 to 15 years.”

Removing the runway from the plan will free up additional space for the revenue-generating opportunities. Working closely with the aiport, Van Guilder sees that volunteers there are ready to make a plan for moving forward.

“We have opportunities to apply for grants through the FAA but there’s always a match component and so in order to make that match we need to have some type of revenue coming in so that we’re not drawing down on the general fund,” said Van Guilder. “I respect the fact that our volunteers at the TRAA have a lot of passion and they are very motivated to support the efforts of the airport.”

The resolution for the authorization of the submittal of an application, acceptance of an allocation of funds, and execution of a grant agreement with the FAA passed the City Council with a 4-0 vote. 

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