Development authority commits $1.2 million to airport runway extension

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — An airport runway extension presentation to city council members in Morgantown Tuesday night included an announcement of financial backing to move the project forward.

“The FAA is very pleased with the fact that the City of Morgantown is coming to the table with partners who’ve already put money in,” Glen Kelly, Morgantown’s Assistant City Manager, told council members.

Holly Childs explains development authority's commitment to airport project.
Holly Childs explains development authority’s commitment to airport project.

At that time, Holly Childs, Director of the Monongalia   County Development Authority, handed over a check committing a total of $1.2 million dollars toward the $31 million it will take to lengthen the 5,199-foot runway by another 1,001 feet.

“This expansion will give the airport a much greater audience and will make it that much more appealing for businesses,” Childs commented.

The development authority, which has worked with the city on an access road to the airport, is anticipating a property trade on the investment promised Tuesday.

“I think that 95 acres, to be able to develop that, certainly we’re going to sell that as developable lots,” Childs said.  “The development authority’s mission is to attract jobs and investment to the region.  So, this clearly fits within our mission.”

The city has committed $500,000 for environmental assessment work that must be done before  an Air Force Reserve training group can begin development.  Construction, once projected to begin in 5 years, could begin in April 2016.

Council members, at the request of City Manager Jeff Mikorski, agreed to utilizing $1 million from the capital escrow fund to show commitment to the project while asking for FAA matching funds.

Kelly, the acting airport director, has projected that teaming up with the reserves will save Morgantown $8 million to $12 million on the overall cost of the project.

He, along with Childs, hope the announcement of the development authority’s support, will open the door to further backing from community leaders.

“As we go through these next steps, we want them to see that we’re vested. And, we want them to come on board as more funds are needed for future phases of the project,” Childs said.