Plans for the City’s Airport Expansion Extending the runway to 5,000 feet, creating a parallel taxi-way, and relocation of the hangars and fueling system

By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer

During an Aug. 30 work session, the Madison City Council discussed future expansion plans for the Madison Municipal Airport, which would include extending the runway to 5,000 feet, creating a parallel taxi-way, and relocation of the hangars and fueling system. According to City Manager David Nunn, the total cost of acquiring the property for these expansions will be approximately $1.8 million and will come from federal funding through the state and local governments.

The City of Madison has informed the state of its intention to utilize aviation funding. Nunn stated that aviation funding is “its own pool,” meaning that aviation funding is generated solely by aviation-related sources.

Despite the letter of intent to use the funding, Nunn stated that the rate of progress cannot be calculated at this time.

“It’s hard to guess how quickly it will move along,” said Nunn. “Airport work just takes time.”

Council Member Joe DiLetto expressed his interest in seeing progress being made at the airport, while noting that the facilities currently in place are being utilized well.

“It’s a well-run airport,” said DiLetto. “They do a good job out there.”

DiLetto also asked Nunn whether it would be possible to create a revenue stream at the airport by building T-hangars at the airport and then leasing them out to private users.

“That’s certainly an option,” replied Nunn. “I think it could service the debt of the hangars.”

Karen Guinn presented the finance officer’s report to the Council. Guinn stated that the finance department is still in the process of closing out last year’s books and will have that project done by mid-Sept., at which point an audit will be done on the data.

Guinn said that Madison’s general fund is going to “break even” for the past fiscal year, and that the city hopes to be able to complete their refinancing of Town Park by Oct.

The balance on Town Park now stands at approximately $1.06 million, according to Guinn. SPLOST funds will pay up to $1 million of that debt and the city will have to pay the remaining estimated $60,000.

Council Member Michael Naples addressed the problem of Madison’s pedestrian walkways during the meeting, saying that a number of people have approached him and asked why more hasn’t been done to make them safer.

Nunn acknowledged that the Madison hasn’t “done a frontal assault in a while” but plans to make it a top priority again.

DiLetto stated that he thinks that non-locals are the cause of most of the issues, because they simply aren’t accustomed to driving through Madison and don’t know where the crosswalks are.

Mayor Bruce Gilbert stated that Georgia drivers in general don’t understand that it is the law to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

“People in Georgia do not realize they have to stop,” said Gilbert. “It’s going to take a while.”

Nunn stated that DOT approval is necessary for crosswalk enhancements, but stated that the district and area offices “haven’t been as forthcoming” when it comes to agreeing to crosswalk improvements.

Whitey Hunt asked Planning Director Monica Callahan about the Downtown District Authority’s (DDA) intention with the recent purchase of the building at 150 West Washington Street.

Callahan stated that the 16,000 square foot building is the DDA’s current downtown project, and that the DDA will work to “intercede and take away the negative” aspects of the building in order to make it more commercially viable.

The most prominent impediment that the building contains currently is the lack of parking.

Callahan also stated that the rent that the DDA receives from the tenants currently in the building “carries the mortgage” and that the project is “cash-positive at the present.”

Both the council and members of the staff discussed a number of rumors concerning the progress of the Stake and Shake’s construction and stated that, when citizens have concerns or questions about anything going on in the city, they should pick up the phone, call the city and get the answers straight from the source so unnecessary rumors can be avoided.