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County airport gets $1 million grant for facelift

June 06, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

The Imperial County Airport will get a much-needed facelift thanks in part to a $1 million Federal Aviation Administration grant announced Tuesday.

The funds, which were requested by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and Imperial County Airport officials, will go toward remodeling the existing terminal building and improving the runway safety area for aircraft take-offs and landings, a press release states.

"It's not all bad; it just needs to be remodeled," said airport manager David Conn in an interview this morning.

County Supervisor Tony Tirado agrees.

"These million dollars are greatly needed for improvements," Tirado said.

"I'll tell you one thing: It needs a facelift in there," he added.

Tirado also said these improvements couldn't come at a more critical time because the maquiladora industry across the border has increased airport traffic.

In the terminal, Conn said money will be used to replace poorly working air conditioners that don't always keep the building cool.

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Conn said new air conditioners could be installed within the next month or two.

The airport will also purchase new doors to replace the existing ones that have been there since 1968, Conn said.

Conn said money may be spent on an elevator so that a conference room and other rooms on the terminal's second floor will be accessible to all people.

Presently, Conn said, those rooms haven't been in use for the past four years because the Americans with Disabilities Act requires an elevator be available to transport physically handicapped people.

Airport officials are considering turning the upstairs into a waiting area for passengers, Conn said.

Conn also said the facility's restrooms need complete remodeling.

The money will also be spent on what Conn called "less glamorous" capital improvements such as the runway safety area.

Projects other than the new air conditioners could start within this year, Conn estimates.

"Hopefully it makes the customers a little more relaxed in the terminal," Conn said.

More than 20,000 air commuters use Imperial County Airport annually.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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