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The South Arkansas Regional Airport is getting some new equipment, acquiring 50 acres of land and applying for grant money to renovate the Goodwin Field terminal, all thanks to support from the El Dorado Works Board.

The terminal renovation will cost more than $2 million, and the airport commission is hoping to get 50-60% of that through a grant. The commission needs to raise the other 40-50% itself. Commission chairman Dr. Mickey Murfee noted that some of that money could come through fundraising efforts, but, in order to qualify for the grant, the commission needed a commitment to fund their half of the grant.

“Will this raise revenues for our town? Of course it will, if we get new people in here,” board member Avo Vartenian said. “It’s really something that will be a great addition.”

The terminal was designed by John B. Abbott, one of the founders of CADM Architecture, and completed in 1950. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Airport manager Johnathan Estes noted that passengers flying from Dallas to Memphis or vice versa are left with an impression of El Dorado informed solely by the terminal.

“I enjoy our facility, but I want to have a facility that the city can be proud to have and display,” Estes.

The works board voted to match up to 50% of the grant.

• 50 acres of trees: The works board also approved a $300,000 purchase of 50 acres around the airport. Trees on that land will be cut down in order to create a longer, safer area for airplanes as they approach the airport’s runways. The airport will repay the $300,000 to the work board in 2020 when it receives federal grant dollars.

Vartenian asked if the commission intended to make a profit by selling the timber from the 50 acres, and if some of that money could be used to reimburse the works board. Murfee noted any money made by the airport, by law, has to be reinvested into the airport.

Murfee also said the land would not be used to expand the airport, at least not in the near future.

• Changing tires: The board agreed to spend $5,300 purchasing a flat tire dolly, which will be used to tow a plane with a flat tire off of the runway.

“It’s one of those instruments, not going to be used a lot, but when you need it, you need it,” Murfee said. “The design on this thing is simple, so it’s not something that’s going to wear or break down quickly.”

Estes said he would establish a charge for towing an airplane with the dolly.

“I’m going to have two-to-three planes a year that this will happen to, so it won’t have a huge impact on our budget,” he said. “But it’s still better than the fire department or my guys sitting on the runway trying to make sure no one else hits us while we have an AMP or a mechanic changing a tire on the runway.”

The commission also rejected a request from the commission to purchase a tractor for $55,560 to replace the equipment the airport currently leases.

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