The Gonzales Municipal Airport Advisory Board met Thursday, July 30 to discuss moving forward a series of expansions and updates intended to increase the quality of the Roger M. Dreyer Memorial Airport, as well as allow different kinds of aircraft to land in the area.
While the board is still in development stages for the Airport Layout Plan, there are a few must-haves on the list: widening the runway, replacing outdated lighting and installing a series of lights known as a visual approach slope indicator.
The improvements would cost at least $150,000. The board has not yet addressed funding, nor the use of a consultant for the project. However, a 90-10 grant from the Department of Transportation and private investment are being considered.
In a 90-10 grant, 90% of the budget for the project would be provided by TXDOT, while 10% would be funded by the city. The total estimated cost for the airport’s expansion and updates would exceed $150,000. The City of Gonzales is already programmed to receive this 90-10 grant, according to Texas Department of Transportation Aviation Planner Ben Breck, who attended the meeting.
Also present at the meeting was Gonzales Mayor Connie Kacir.
On 2013, the airport's named changed from the Gonzales Municipal Airport to the Roger M. Dreyer Memorial Airport.
Other than the name, the airport has not changed much since he was growing up in Gonzales, said board member Dr. Commie Hisey, Chief of Staff at Gonzales Memorial Hospital.
“I really wanted to get on this committee,” Dr. Hisey said. “I wanted to see us do something with this. This is the same airport that existed when I graduated high school. Outside of a few new hangars it’s no different.”
Breck said the airport's lighting would be the highest priority for the board, as it is 40 years old and outdated. Board members also said that the beacon used to signal the airport’s location was not easily visible to incoming flights, despite being listed as in operation from sunset to sunrise by the FAA.
Kacir said the Gonzales Economic Development Corporation may also be a party which incurs the cost of updating and expanding the airport.
“It's the key to economic development,” Kacir said. “It's an economic development driver. We talked about it when we were talking about hangars and some other things. And at that time, I did approach the EDC board to look at doing some expansion, we were actually wrapped and were talking about acquiring some other property if you recall, and they didn't have an appetite for it at all.
“So I've just continued to push that envelope and we now have a board that is embracing this concept. And as Dr. Hisey said, we need to get on it and move I think the time is right.”
Members of the Airport Advisory Board said that while they haven’t kept record of how many flights are choosing not to land at the Gonzales Municipal Airport, they’re sure at least a few have chosen not to because the runway is on the shorter side at 3,200 feet. The board agreed that both lengthening and widening the runway was a priority, to allow larger planes and jets to land there.
Other considerations for improvements include a GPS approach, which would allow aircraft approach the runway when visibility is low, as well as a taxiway and acquiring more acreage or moving the airport altogether.