The Liberty Gazette
May 18, 2010
May 18, 2010
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Linda: Certain improvements at the Liberty Airport have been on the books a couple of years now, and with Gary Broz in the City Manager’s office it looks like more will be coming. It’s nice to have him on the side of the airport. Because of his recent request to pursue funding for 10 T-hangars, we’re hopeful the LCDC will come through with money to match the insurance and FEMA reimbursements that are due to the city. For some of that money it’s “use it or lose it,” with the deadline approaching soon. And, it just makes sense for LCDC to spend money for hangars rather than take it out of the city’s already stretched budget. After all, LCDC’s purpose is economic development, and that’s one of the jobs of an airport, to help stimulate an area’s economy by making it accessible. To attract money you have to have something the people with money want. That’s the idea, to bring money to Liberty.
As for FAA grants, the protocol is airside improvements first, then later things like hangars, and FAA’s hangar grants aren’t the best they have to offer, so LCDC is a good choice. For other airport development funding the FAA is the primary giver of grants, and someday if Liberty so impresses TXDOT, we could be awarded state grants as well. There are a multitude of grants available though, from many different sources and in all areas of development. That’s where an experienced grant writer comes in handy. Someone who knows where the money is and how to get it is a real asset to a city that wants to lessen the burden on its local tax base.
Mike: The airport wish list includes an airport manager, a courtesy car, and a much needed terminal building with restrooms. Area businesses will have reason to celebrate acquisition of a courtesy car and a full time, experienced airport manager. Quite often in this column we write about other airports we’ve visited and courtesy cars provided so pilots can go into town and patronize local businesses. The City of Granbury offers four former police cars for this purpose and their city benefits greatly.
Real restrooms are needed at the Liberty airport. I remember when we were finally able to celebrate getting a port-a-potty at the airport. But really, that just doesn’t cut it. We’re competing with airports across the country, not just across town. Hopefully in a new terminal building the restrooms will be accessible after hours. If we’re going to spend money to attract visitors we better be able to offer always-open bathrooms.
Through numerous presentations and communications over the past three years to city council, the Chamber, Lions Club, on “The Party Line,” through this column and others, we’ve maintained that our airport needs to give back to the community. Treated right, any airport can breathe new life into a community. There is so much room for improvement that the sky’s the limit. Liberty’s $219,000 annual economic impact could turn into millions if the airport is wisely developed. Long-range planning, vision and know-how are key ingredients to getting the job done. As we say, “airports are for people who don’t fly,” because so much that touches our everyday lives requires availability of viable, well-run airports.
We’ve worked hard getting the word out over the past few years. It’s exciting to see some light shining through.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.