FLORENCE, AZ – One of Pinal County’s major assets for future economic development is the Pinal Airpark. An old lease agreement severely hampered the county’s ability to use this asset to its fullest.
The process of negotiating a new lease agreement got underway in 2011. The Pinal County Board of Supervisors inked an amendment to the lease in July that resolves many issues in favor of economic development opportunities. The terms of the old Airpark lease restricted public access to the airfield. This meant that the entire facility was out of compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.
As a result of the new agreement, the FAA has indicated that the Pinal Airpark has achieved compliance.
“We are pleased to have achieved FAA compliance,” said Pinal County Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Steve Miller. “We are progressing forward with plans to make the Pinal Airpark a jewel in Pinal County’s economic development crown.”
FAA compliance also makes the facility eligible for federal grant funding that can be used for runway upgrades, on-airport safety and technology improvements and more.
“This is exciting news that I believe moves us much closer to realizing the potential of the Airpark as an economic development engine and allowing us to significantly improve the usability of the facility,” Vice Chairman and District 4 Supervisor Anthony Smith said.
The new agreement kicks off a two-year planning process. The airport master plan will identify future needs and uses for the airport and is a key component needed to apply for airport development grants. The public will have opportunities to offer input as the master plan is developed. Updates on the public input process will be posted on the Pinal County website (www.pinalcountyaz.gov).
“Most importantly, the negotiation process cemented a positive, productive and mutually-beneficial relationship between the county and the tenant,” said Todd House, District 5 Supervisor.
Supervisor Pete Rios whose district used to include Pinal Airpark said the facility was considered to be an economic development hub as far back as 2009 when the county was developing its Comprehensive Plan.
“I’m looking forward to reviewing plans for businesses that want to take advantage of the strategic location of the Pinal Airpark and our two nearby interstates,” Rios said.
Creating better economic and employment opportunities for residents was a constant theme throughout 2012 when the supervisors were running their election campaigns.
“Although the Pinal Airpark is far from my San Tan Valley district, I realize that bringing quality jobs and businesses to Pinal County has a benefit to all of our districts. This is an exciting time to be a Pinal County elected official,” District 2 Supervisor Cheryl Chase said.
San Manuel Airport
This federal grant cycle, the San Manuel Airport applied for and is expected to receive a $200,000 Federal/State/Local Master Plan Grant and a $50,000 State/Local Ramp Redesign Grant. The planning grant will be used to forecast future needs and identify projects that need to be built to enhance the value of the San Manuel Airport. The Ramp Redesign grant will be used to fix the portion of the grounds where aircraft are parked.
Both sources of grant funding come from airport user fees that are paid by travelers and aircraft owners. The local share comes from hangar rentals. No local taxpayer dollars will be used for the purposes outlined above.