Tulare lands new airport updates

(Rigo Moran)

As the city of Tulare continues to beautify every corner of the town, its Mefford Field’s turn to see some updates

TULARE – Tulare’s municipal airport is getting ready to take off with some improvements as the city of Tulare continues to spread the wealth of their Keep Tulare Beautiful campaign.

At the Tulare City Council meeting on Sept. 5, airport manager Manny Correa said he was excited to present the council with current and potential updates for Tulare airport. The most recent and visible update began on Sept. 11 as they began resealing of the apron and taxiway. Correa said the current asphalt was visibly deteriorated and was causing damage to some of the airplanes.

Other updates include the creation of real restrooms instead of a portable one, updated security system, hangar roof repairs, lighting, signage updates, new gates and other small things.

“We wanted to provide a cleaner, safer and more inviting airport for visitors,” Correa said. “That’s why we started the process.”

The hope is, once the airport has seen a face lift and a little TLC, the city will approve the expansion of the airport. In addition to resealing the asphalt, the city also plans to put a temporary roof wrap on the long standing Mefford Field hanger; one that can be seen from Highway 99.

Due to recent storms and from long time wear and tear, the roof has been damaged and can potentially be hazardous now. As a result, the purpose of the temporary wrap is to prevent further damage from occurring before they are able to spend the necessary time and money on complete renovations of the building.

Throughout the past few years, the airport team has also been providing roof repairs for tenants in some of the hangars as well. There haven’t been many updates to the airport in nearly a decade, so to see any type of progress is exciting according to the airport manager.

Correa explained as the city continues to update signage throughout the city, the airport will be included in that as well. It will include signs throughout the airport, on the runways and taxiways. He added they will be looking for approval for a sign for the airport that can be seen from Highway 99 as well.

“(We are looking for) approval for a big sign outside, because right now, if you go to the airport and you don’t see the planes, you don’t even know there’s an airport there,” Correa said.

The Tulare Airport was originally hoping to receive grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to complete the resealing project. However, when they were notified that money was no longer on the table, Correa said they decided to go ahead anyway.

“We have been waiting for a while to do this, so we took advantage of some reserves that we had for matching funds or for the project,” Correa said.

The airport committee has also recently approved rate increases for new tenants, and a gradual increase for existing tenants. These increases will continue to help finance some of the projects the airport has in mind.

Looking ahead

As far as expansion for the Tulare Airport, the current waitlist for those who would like a hangar is around 20 individuals from around the county. That number does not include those tenants who would like to upgrade to a larger hanger as well. The goal is to add at least four additional hangers, possibly helipads and additional updates to the existing buildings on the property. These updates will be addressed by the city after general updates are made.

“Some airports around us are getting so commercial that a lot of people with private planes want a quiet place to be at, so we’ve been getting more calls requesting more hangars,” Correa said.

Additionally, there are about 25 acres of land surrounding the airport, near the Mefford Field hangar and Highway 99. Correa said he has been waiting to hear back from the FAA for two years on approval to commercialize the area.

“We are working with the FAA to make sure that we will be able to utilize these 25 acres…to bring some commercial buildings – or some type of businesses – that will start bringing (in) actual money to (improve) the airport,” Correa told the council.

Until the city hears back from the FAA, they will have to wait before any sort of economic development can touch that area of the city. With the new interchange – which can also be thanked for the additional attention currently being brought to the airport – a handful of commercial businesses could thrive near the highway. Not to mention the attention it could bring to the historic Mefford Field.

“The new interchange…is going to bring more traffic and more visitors, especially during the yearly Ag Show,” Correa said.

Start typing and press Enter to search