THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — Thibodaux officials are hoping to maximize the city's airport, a facility that was once considered useless.
The Daily Comet reported (http://bit.ly/1jxpaQT) the Thibodaux Municipal Airport has received several upgrades over the last two years and now could see a possible future expansion.
The airport, about three miles south of the city in Lafourche Parish, primarily houses private planes and crop dusters. City officials had characterized it as a parking spot for private planes.
Before Mayor Tommy Eschete took office in 2011, the city lost $116,277 in grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration for airport improvements after the city sat on the funds for four years. He said getting that money back was a priority for his administration.
Since taking office, Eschete said the city has approved re-striping and sealing of the airport's runways and has installed new lights and other safety upgrades for the facility.
"The new lighting system has been excellent," said property manager Don Hohensee of Golden Ranch Aviation.
Hohensee, who routinely lands helicopters and planes at the airport, said when he began working there in 2000 the facility had an "obsolete lighting system," a grass driveway and no fencing for security, which led to several break-ins.
Now, it's grown into a useful asset for the area, he said.
"The facility is coming around. The mayor and the city have been doing a lot, and they've been doing a fantastic job," he said of the airport upgrades.
The airport includes planes owned by Rouses Supermarkets and Thibodaux-based contractor Byron E. Talbot.
The airport could still use a face-lift, and added security and a remodeled office would also be beneficial, Hohensee said.
"Ultimately we'd like to put some local dollars in so we could enhance the terminal itself because it's starting to show its age," Eschete said.
The city spends less than $45,000 on the airport each year, including the lease and yearly costs.
"The costs are minimal, but it's like having an auditorium or baseball field. It's a facility that the public can access," Eschete said.
Information from: Daily Comet, http://www.dailycomet.com