PITTSFIELD, Maine — Town Manager Kathryn Ruth called the apron of the Ron Curtis Municipal Airport — the paved section of the airport that allows planes to refuel, taxi to hangars and come in for repairs — “the crucial center of the airport.”
She was delighted, therefore, to learn Tuesday that Pittsfield had been awarded $1.04 million from the Federal Aviation Administration for an apron reconstruction project. “This is wonderful; very, very good news,” Ruth said.
The apron is original to the airport and was constructed in 1955.
“This reconstruction is drastically needed. The apron is the hub of the airport and this is a great economic development project,” she said. Ruth said many companies in central Maine use the airport as a business transportation center.
Ruth said construction would be done this summer. “The entire area will be dug up, proper drainage installed and then repaved,” she said.
She said the project will have to be done quickly and timed so that the airport’s operations won’t be disrupted. It is the first step in a multiyear project that includes expanding the apron to allow for new hangar construction. “We continue to get calls for hangar space at the airport. All our existing hangars are filled,” she said.
The grant award was announced by Rep. Mike Michaud, who simultaneously announced a $4.2 million grant for the rehabilitation of the runway at Houlton International Airport.
“The facilities in Houlton and Pittsfield are in great need of these upgrades. These are tough economic times and these grants supply needed investment in our communities’ infrastructure,” Michaud said. “Economic development and business attraction depend on sound infrastructure. The improvements at both airports will en-sure increased safety for customers and airport staff.”
With this latest grant, Ruth has garnered almost $8 million in grant funding for the town of Pittsfield. She has more than $1 million in grant requests pending action.
These include a grant request to expand the Industrial Park and another to install a wind turbine at the Pittsfield Transfer Station and Recycling Center.