New airport terminal location approved

COVINGTON -- The new terminal building planned for Covington Municipal Airport will now be located much closer to Ga. Highway 142, based on a plan approved by the City Council Monday.

Previously, the terminal was proposed to be 2,000 feet away from the highway, but the new plan by Croy Engineers calls for it to be moved just 50 feet away, said Airport Engineer Vincent Passariello.

"We wanted it to be very close to (Highway) 142 so it would be visible. People travel that area very highly; it's traveled by local industry. We want them to see it and make use of that facility," he said.

Passariello said the plan is for the terminal to include a restaurant that will serve not only those who use the airport but employees and executives of industries in the area. The terminal will also include a conference room and a multi-purpose room.

The terminal was previously planned to be constructed in a wetland area, but it would have taken a long time to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, and the move closer to the highway will allow construction to begin much sooner. The city is still seeking permission to eventually develop the wetland area, potentially with additional hangars.

"We've been in neutral for almost a year since we discovered the wetland. This is a good step to get out of that neutral and get into drive," Passariello said.

The city is moving ahead with having the site work for the terminal completed, which will take between 30 and 60 days. Following that, input will be solicited from a committee, the mayor and council and other local leaders on the design of the building, Passariello said. It should take an architect up to 60 days to complete the design.

Passariello said he hopes construction can be under way by summer 2012. The terminal will cost an estimated $1.5 million. The city has funds from the Federal Aviation Administration to do the preliminary site and design work. The city is anticipating receipt of a grant from the OneGeorgia Authority as well as SPLOST funds for construction, and if the transportation SPLOST is approved, funds from that could be applied to the terminal, as well as other development at the airport, such as navigational aids, lighting, a southeast apron and fuel farm. City funds may also be used.

In other airport news, the city will offer a 10 cent per gallon discount on fuel for Shell credit card holders or those who pay with cash. Passariello recommended the move in hopes of saving money on credit card fees. The city supplies fuel under the Shell logo, and fuel purchased with a Shell credit card does not incur processing fees for the city. Other credit cards carry a 3.25 percent fee.