The long wait is over for the new Prescott Regional Airport terminal project.
During a Prescott City Council study session Tuesday, Nov. 19, Mayor Greg Mengarelli announced that he had just received word that the airport terminal project had been confirmed for a $10 million Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant.
And that means that the postponed groundbreaking on the terminal project could occur by as early as December.
Mengarelli told the audience that he had heard from the office of U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema just before the start of Tuesday’s meeting.
The email came from Daniel Winkler, economic development aide for Sinema. It states: “…Today FAA notified us of a $10 million award in AIP (Airport Improvement Program) supplemental funding for the terminal construction.”
Mengarelli later said he was “excited and relieved, but not surprised” at the grant news.
City officials had long reported that FAA officials had assured them that a grant was coming.
Still, the announcement was delayed for months, which pushed off the city’s originally planned groundbreaking for the terminal construction.
City officials had expected to hear about the grant award by late summer, and originally scheduled the groundbreaking for construction on Oct. 4.
Because of the delay, the city announced in September that it would be pushing off the terminal groundbreaking.
The wait continued into November. On Monday afternoon, Nov. 18, Airport Director Robin Sobotta told the Daily Courier that the city was still awaiting a grant announcement.
In response to the news on Tuesday, Sobotta said, “We are thrilled to receive the notice of the intent to award, and we look forward to working with the FAA (on the processing of the grant).”
She explained that the FAA’s protocol involves giving the state’s Congressional delegation a three-day courtesy advance notice about pending grant announcements. That notice went out Tuesday morning.
Sobotta said a formal public announcement is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 22.
Meanwhile, she said, city officials would be in contact with the FAA to talk about the schedule for processing the grant.
The grant will also require a review and approval by the Prescott City Council.
With the next regular meeting of the City Council set for Dec. 10, Sobotta said a special council meeting could take place in the meantime to speed up the process.
Depending on the timing of those steps, Sobotta said the groundbreaking could be scheduled by early December.
Mengarelli and City Manager Michael Lamar both said they hope the groundbreaking would happen as soon as possible.
“I would think we would step on the gas to put together a groundbreaking as soon as we can,” Mengarelli said after Tuesday’s study session.
Lamar noted that with the FAA’s $10 million — in combination with the $1 million that the city recently accepted from the state and the $3.5 million that the city has allocated from its own funds — the project should be ready to go.
On Monday, the city received word from its contracting team Willmeng Construction/Fann Contracting that the $13.9 million guaranteed maximum price for the project would be extended from its initial deadline of Nov. 16 until Dec. 16.
Lamar said he hopes to expedite the start of the project “I hope we have a groundbreaking before the end of the year,” he said.
City officials have talked for years about the need for a new airport terminal to replace the aging 1940s-era terminal.
The talks intensified with the 2018 arrival of SkyWest Airlines, operated by United Express, as the city’s commercial carrier.
The terminal design was completed earlier this year, and the city chose Willmeng/Fann as the construction team.
The announcement of $10 million exceeds the $9.3 million that the city originally requested in supplemental funds from the FAA.