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Board accepts $247,530 grant from DRA for infrastructure improvements at Jetport

By Bill Short

Flag City LogoThe Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously accepted a grant from the Delta Regional Authority to fund infrastructure improvements at the Regional Jetport.
Board members took the action during their March 9 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Mike Caruthers and seconded by Alderman Thomas McGhee.
The Delta Regional Authority was created by an act of Congress to stimulate development in 252 counties within eight states by “fostering partnerships” that will have a positive impact on the Delta Region’s economy.
Millington applied for a $250,000 DRA grant and has been awarded $247,530 to fund improvements to Funafuti Street at the Regional Jetport.
Crew Training International, a $40 million Germantown-based company, wants to establish a flight training academy in Hangar N-7 at the Jetport. The company is also interested in constructing three residential facilities or “dormitories” on property that the Millington Industrial Development Board currently owns.
Charles Gulotta, executive director of the IDB and Millington Area Chamber of Commerce, has said that, because Funafuti connects Hangar N-7 to the proposed site for the dormitories, it must be “reconstructed.”
Jetport Executive Director Roy Remington said the infrastructure that the Navy turned over to the city, IDB and airport has “essentially exceeded its useful life.” So, there are roadways without center lines or shoulders, shoulder striping, curbs or gutters.
“All the things that you would expect of a modern roadway,” he acknowledged. “So, as part of this grant, the intent is to seek funds to make improvements to those roadways and to allow the economic development project to move forward.”
But before CTI can construct the dormitories, the city must extend its water, sewer and gas lines to the site from Dakar Street. The estimated cost is slightly more than $180,000.
City Engineer Darek Baskin said Millington has received $150,000 from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for the utilities extension. He noted that the city also has a $100,000 grant from the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County.
Because of “compelling safety reasons” as well as “aesthetics,” CTI has agreed to provide $25,000 to help the city bury its overhead utility lines underground on the site. That leaves a local matching requirement of $30,670 that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has voted to provide.
“Once the dormitories are built,” Gulotta has said, “we think the city will be receiving about $30,000 in income. So, you’ll get your money back in approximately one year. And after that, it will be sort of profit.”
To obtain support for the project from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Remington and Gulotta used their own money to have an economic impact study conducted. The results show that the project will have a $14 million annual economic impact on the city.
From TDOT, they requested and received a $1.3 million grant to renovate Hangar N-7. And because the grant requires a 50-percent local match, the Millington Municipal Airport Authority found slightly more than $500,000 to “put toward this initiative.”
At its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting, the Millington Municipal Planning Commission approved a plan to abandon sections of the right of way of:
(1) Eniwetok Street from the northern right of way of Dakar to the western right of way of Hornet Avenue; and
(2) Indianapolis Avenue from the northern right of way of Dakar to the southern right of way of Funafuti.
At its Oct. 13, 2014 meeting, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously passed an ordinance on final reading that quitclaims the abandoned right of way of the two streets to the IDB.
The city will also abandon the 68-foot right of way of a “proposed” road shown on Lot 6 of Plat Book 223 as recorded with the Shelby County Register’s Office.
The IDB can now sell the abandoned right of way property to CTI.
Baskin noted that the DRA grant is “100-percent funding,” with no local matching funds required. He said it will be used to “leverage” the Federal Land Access Program grant, which the city is seeking for improvements to Astoria Avenue from Navy Road north to Funafuti.
Remington has said the flight training academy will bring 75 jobs, 100 students a year and 30 based aircraft that will be part of the “transportation infrastructure” in the city.
While noting that N-7 will be the “base of operations” for the flight school, he has said it will include a large bay hangar where the aircraft will be stored and worked on, a “first-class” testing center where the students can take online courses, and “breakout rooms” where they can meet individually with their flight instructors to review each day’s lessons.
South of Eniwetok, there will be what Remington has called a “multi-purpose” building that is neither a dormitory nor a classroom. It will have a dining facility where the students can “relax a bit” and spend time with one another.
While Gulotta and Remington “participated heavily” in preparing the DRA grant application, Baskin said they were assisted by two representatives of the Memphis Area Association of Governments – Executive Director Ralph Moore and Josh Shumaker, program developer and Rural Planning Organization coordinator.
“Mr. Moore and Mr. Shumaker are the grant administrators,” he noted. “Without them, this grant would not be possible.”
Shumaker told the board members that the grant will “aid this amazing project.”
“DRA looks at projects that are about job creation,” he said. “That was its allure and interest in this, and we’re very glad to be a part of it.”
Moore commended the board for its “innovation” toward economic development and job creation.
“There aren’t too many cities that are on the path that you are going,” he concluded. “You’re doing the best that you can with the tools that are available. Your citizens should be proud of you.”

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March 2015
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