Airport panel directs pursuit of grant

The Pine Bluff Aviation Commission voted unanimously Thursday to authorize Grider Field Airport Manager Doug Hale to pursue an Arkansas Department of Aeronautics matching grant to help fund a proposed road project at the facility.

Hale said the south access road at the 850-acre site is in need of improvements. The dirt and gravel road is narrow and at least one vehicle has to veer partially off the surface whenever oncoming traffic is encountered. There is some concern that the conditions might impede emergency traffic.

Suggested enhancements are expected to cost nearly $100,000, including an approximate $15,000 engineering fee. The state grant would cover 90 percent of the total, with the city’s cost share satisfying the remainder.

Hale said a second grant process involving a proposed apron project is “advancing toward completion.”

James M. “Mitch” Rose, an engineering consultant to the commission, briefly addressed a work order between McClelland Consulting Engineers Inc. of Little Rock and the commission. Rose is proposing to obtain subcontractor assistance on a five-year airport strategic plan from the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business.

Walton College Center for Business and Economic Research Director Kathy Deck and Rose addressed a commission subcommittee July 9 on formulating the plan.

Rose said Thursday that the plan would be inclusive of a vision, mission, goals and strategic point identifications. He said the airport’s cost for the planning package would be roughly $27,000 with McClelland paying a fee of about $22,000 to the UA for its services.

Commissioners agreed to delay approval of the effort until it can determine financial possibilities on the expense and review the work order. The commission’s planning committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, to further discuss the issue.