The recent closure of Vista Field Airport in Kennewick has helped spur demand for hangar space at the Port of Benton's Richland Airport.
Two taxi lanes have been built at the Richland Airport to serve new hangars, but water and sewer still will need to be extended this year, Port of Benton commissioners were told Wednesday.
The taxi lanes were built on part of an undeveloped circle near other hangars in the northern part of the airport and near Butler Loop.
John Haakenson, the port's director of airports and operations, said he has had interest in new hangars from Vista Field tenants and others.
About 17 aircraft were based at Vista Field Airport when the Port of Kennewick decided to close the small general aviation airport earlier this year. Vista Field's last day as an airport will be Dec. 31.
The Port of Benton already has about half of the available property leased from what the new taxi lanes opened up and is working with potential tenants on the remaining portions, Haakenson said. He expects to have the leases complete by fall.
Those tenants may build around seven box hangars and a t-hangar that could fit up to 11 aircraft, he said.
The port will continue to own the land, but will enter into long-term leases with those interested in building and owning their own hangars, Haakenson said.
The remainder of the circle area once used as a landing spot for skydivers is grass, Haakenson said.
The extension of taxi lanes and utilities so that hangars can be built in the rest of the circle area can be broken down into phases that can be completed when there is demand and funding, said Kimberly Silvester with J-U-B Engineers.
The type and number of hangars that will be built will depend on what builders propose and the airport can accommodate, she said.
The Federal Aviation Administration should have about $1.25 million for the port in 2016 to help pay for taxi lane improvements needed so more hangars could be built, Silvester said. The port will have to come up with funding for utility extension.
Silvester said they are looking for other funding, perhaps from the Washington state Department of Transportation or expiring FAA grants for other airports.
Haakenson said he thinks the port can accommodate demand for hangars with existing hangars and the most recent project until the FAA funding is available in 2016.
Having demand for more hangars then will help justify the need for the FAA dollars, he said.
Hangar owners say that space is fairly full, Haakenson said. But once new hangars are built, that should open up some room in existing hangars that can then be filled by those interested in basing their aircraft at the Richland Airport.
-- The Port of Benton received a $622,000 grant for Crow Butte Park improvements from the state Recreation and Conservation Office.
The grant will allow the port to replace the existing main boat launch, boat basin floating deck and gangway. Also, the port will be able to add a new restroom, a fish-cleaning station and 12 new boat slips.
Port Executive Director Scott Keller said the project will likely begin in mid-October after the park is closed for the winter. Construction should be finished by March or April, before the park reopens to the public.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org