Local and state officials were on hand in Greensburg last week for a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 25 north of town.
More than 40 mph wind gusts blew across Kiowa County on Thursday, April 25, 2019 but that didnt stop the Greensburg from marking an historic day for rural western Kansas. City and state leaders cut a ribbon for the Grand Opening of the Greensburg Municipal Airport despite that fact that the wind did stop three different airplanes from flying in to the new airport as part of the planned ceremony.
According to a feasibility study done by KDOT Aviation, an airport in the Greensburg area is needed to serve Kiowa County’s almost 3,000 residents. The local economies and small businesses of Greensburg, Haviland, and Mullinville are projected to benefit from nearly $425,000 in projected economic output each year by the airport, once in operation. A project like this will assist in crop dusting, and the city has already been contacted by hunters from out-of-state wanting to know if it was true that the city was opening an airport.
“In a small community and the surrounding areas like Greensburg $425,000 is huge,” Mayor Matt Christenson said.
KDOT Aviation provided five separate grants to fund 90-95 percent of all phases of this project, with the grants awarded totaling more than $2 million. With even better news for the city’s budget, the completed project came in under budget with the actual costs just over $1.75M. That includes construction of a 3,200’ x 120’ turf runway, complete with turnarounds and aircraft parking apron. The installation of runway and taxiway markers and wind cone. An automobile parking lot is finished as is the grading necessary for the long-term goal of a 4,000’ x 60’ paved runway planned for in the future.
Many years of planning the airport project began in 2012 with the acquisition of the airport property. The city then partnered with Lochner to begin working on the Airport Development Plan in 2013. In 2014 the city worked with Southern Pioneer Electric to bury overhead power lines in the vicinity of the airport to comply with FAA rules. Lochner finished the design of the new turf runway in 2017, with RJA beginning construction in November of 2017. Grading work was then substantially completed by April of 2018, with the turf seeding completed in the fall of 2018.
Mayor Christenson welcomed more than 40 peopleto the airport’s Grand Opening on April 25. He extended special thanks to those who worked with the city to bring this project to fruition. The project team included the City of Greensburg, Kiowa County, KDOT Aviation, Lochner and RJA Dozer Service.
“The closure of the city’s previous Paul Windle Municipal Airport left Kiowa County without a publicly-owned airport to access the state and national airspace system so it was important that we have a new airport,” Mayor Christenson said. “We don’t want to forget past and present Greensburg city staff, including administrators Jay Newton, Ed Truelove, Kyler Ludwig and Stacy Barnes, as well as city clerk Christy Pyatt. All of them dedicated many hours to making sure this project continued to progress, along with former Mayor Bob Dixson, whose many years of service to the city have aided not just this project but countless others.”
Christenson also recognized the city council, whose commitment and support made the airport project possible, Kiowa County commissioners, particularly commissioner Bert Lowery, and road and bridge superintendent Jay Schmidt.
Christenson went on to thank the KDOT Division of Aviation and Lochner, who provided engineering and design services to the project.
“Their decades of experience in this field helped successfully shepherd this project,” he said.
Legislators at both the state and federal levels supported this project and other grant programs which make projects like these in rural areas possible, he said.
“The Southern Pioneer Electric Company’s cooperation and assistance was vital to ensure that the approaches to the airport are free of overhead power lines,” Christenson said. ”RJA Dozer Service of Minneola, the construction contractor for the project, used their proximity and professionalism to help bring the project in under budget.”
Other state and local politicians and dignitaries commended the work at hand. Mike Zamrzla represented Sen. Jerry Moran and Roger Erickson spoke for U.S. Congressional Representative Ron Estes. Leonard Mastroni of the 117th District in the Kansas House of Representatives, State Senator Mary Jo Taylor, and Bob Brock, the Director of Aviation for KDOT all played a vital role in securing the funding needed to bring the project to completion.
“I know that Greensburg has been without an airport for longer than we had hoped, but your continued support and patience is appreciated,” Christenson said. “I look forward to working with all these people and organizations in the future as we work toward our ultimate goal of completing a 4,000’ paved runway.”
After the ceremonial ribbon cutting the group dismissed and a reception was held at the Crazy Mule Restaurant in Greensburg.