Airport hires firm for master plan

Published 1:02 am Sunday, February 4, 2018


NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams County Airport commission this week selected a firm to prepare a master plan for the airport, which has not occurred since 1974.

Airport Director Ron Hall said the master plan is a complex undertaking that could take upwards of a year to complete, but the payoff could be a blueprint for an airport that enhances the entire area.

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“There’s a lot of things that airports need to have done that haven’t been done here in years,” Hall said.

The planning process will involve economic forecasts and analyses, development strategies, scheduling improvements to the airport, and locating funding sources aside from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Hall said the commission would work with the firm, Kutchins & Groh, to determine the actual scope of work, after which point fees would be determined. Hall said he would also have an independent cost analysis done to ensure the pricing is adequate.

Other firms, such as Jordan Kaiser & Sessions, will collaborate with Kutchins & Groh as co-consultants.

Hall sees plenty of areas for the airport to improve, from quick fixes such as converting the asphalt ramp — which Hall said aircraft sink into on a hot day — into concrete, to more involved projects such as one day possibly attracting an airline.

A key component of the plan, Hall said, is public involvement.

Once the firm is under contract, a public involvement program will help identify stakeholders and what issues are important to them.

“There will be a lot of public involvement, because it’s not just the airport, it’s the community’s airport,” Hall said.

The importance of the plan is partly to have a clear vision, rather than piecemeal a grand scheme together one project at a time without any real foresight, Hall said.

“This is the basis, this is the groundwork of beginning anything else we’re going to do,” Hall said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, and that’s what I’ve learned: You have to have that solid foundation, or all your plans are for not.”

Having such a foundation, Hall said, would also help when the airport must justify funding needs to the FAA via the forecasts and analyses.

Hall said once the FAA approves the scope of work, Kutchin’s & Groh is placed under contract and the airport receives grant money from the FAA, the work can begin.

“We’ll leave (no stone) unturned,” Hall said.