As construction gets underway on the site of the new $42 million passenger terminal project at Barkley Regional Airport, plans for a community fundraising effort to help expand air service are also taking shape.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new terminal is tentatively set for Nov. 10. Site preparation, the routing of utilities, access road and aircraft apron construction are scheduled through the spring of 2022.
Terminal construction is scheduled through the winter of 2022, and after finishing touches, the terminal is scheduled to open in the spring of 2023.
In the meantime, the Barkley Blue Sky Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of the airport, is moving toward a launch of its fundraising campaign around the beginning of the coming year.
“We’re having conversations in the community about a fundraising chair and support for a fundraising effort,” said Paducah Mayor George Bray, a member of the alliance. “We’re taking time to make sure we get it right.”
Bray said the upcoming holiday season would have been a difficult time to start a community campaign.
“I think in our minds, we’ve got Jan. 1 as a target.”
Those ongoing conversations indicate that improved air service is a priority with many in the community, Bray said.
“They want flights to different cities. They want a southern flight, they want more options,” he said. “We think there’s an opportunity to make that more of a theme of our fundraising efforts.”
Funds for the $42 million passenger terminal have been secured from a number of sources, including the federal government ($29 million), state of Kentucky ($5 million) and local government ($3 million apiece from the city of Paducah and McCracken County).
“People are smart. They know we’ve gotten a lot of CARES money, they know that the city and county governments have committed money,” Bray said.
“I think they’re going to be a lot more apt to donate money for things the community needs outside of bricks and mortar. That’s why we decided to focus on air service development.”
To that end, Bray is planning to attend TakeOff North America 2021, an air service development forum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in early November, “where airlines come in and interview cities and cities interview airlines.”
The mayor said the new terminal project is important to the community in a number of different ways, including economic development.
“All of us that have been working on the new terminal and the airport in general, appreciate the support of the community. There’s a lot of people that are focused on it to do the right thing and make decisions for this community that are going to impact us for many years to come.”
Follow David Zoeller on Twitter, @DZoeller_The Sun