BY LEANN DILBECK –
The Mena Airport Commission held a meeting open to the public Monday to hear any concerns regarding the 40-year Master Plan, including the expansion to the east side of Runway 09-27, the only project in the plan that will affect citizens outside of current airport holdings. Greg Shipley of Morrison Shipley, who has consulted Mena Airport throughout the process, had large-scale aerial photos and topographical renderings of the affected areas.
Betty Smith, who owns the property to the east of the proposed expansion, spoke to commissioners regarding noise, but of greater concern were drainage issues caused by flooding on County Road 44 since the construction of the 09-27. Airport Attorney Commissioner Danny Thrailkill offered to speak to the County Judge regarding the issue but Smith’s grandson, Jacob Miller, explained that the issue wouldn’t be resolved with deeper ditches. Miller explained the family is losing a couple of inches all along the fence line of a hay meadow that borders the road every time it rains due to erosion since the construction of runway 09-27.
Following the public meeting, the commission moved into their regular monthly meeting. Besides routine business, the commission heard from Shipley who stated that no formal concerns were submitted during the public meeting and therefore, the commission could proceed with filing their 40-year Master Plan to the FAA for final approval. Shipley said that he expected the approval process by all parties could be “wrapped up by the end of the year.”
The project will enable the Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport to remain compliant with FAA standards over the next several decades. Part of the plan will allow for larger aircraft to land at the facilities, bringing more commerce to the community.