Bishop says goodbye to Caldwell, hello to Airport expansion.
The Bishop City Council Chamber had over 40 people in attendance at its regular Monday evening meeting. Most were there to say farewell to departing City Manager Keith Caldwell, replaced by new City Administrator Jim Tatum.
Many were also there for a presentation on the Bishop Airport Layout Plan, which promises to revitalize the tourism prospects of the area.
Caldwell served as City Administrator for almost three years, first coming to work for the City as the Community Services Director. When former City Administrator Jim Southworth did not work out, leaving in August of 2011, Caldwell became the Interim Administrator and finally permanent CAO.
In an emotional farewell from Council members, city employees, and the public, it was clear that Caldwell and his wife Vicky had made many friends over the seven-and-a-half years they lived in Bishop. It was also evident that he was respected and admired by those with whom he served during his tenure as CAO.
As sad as Caldwell’s departure was, there was a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement over the Bishop Airport Layout Plan, which foresees significant improvements and expansion to the airport.
The hope is that the County’s new plans for the irport will invigorate the local economy.
The airport, originally built in 1929, has been green-lighted for improvements since Inyo County was able to negotiate a long-term lease agreement in April of 2011 that would allow it to pursue FAA grant funding.
On July 9 of this year, Inyo County Public Works Director Clint Quilter announced to the Northern Inyo Airport Advisory Committee (NIAAC) that the County had received FAA grant funding to hire an airport consultant to complete an Airport Layout Plan (ALP). The plan prioritizes airport needs and will recommend solutions to the NIAAC.
In a July press release, the Public Works Department noted that, “The Bishop Airport is a vital part of the community that receives daily flights, both public and private … the airport currently has flights delivering express goods and mail, flights for emergency medical situations, firefighting flights, and private flights for pleasure, business travelers and airplane aficionados.”
The airport engineering consultant firm hired by the County was Wadell Engineering Corporation based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. The company, founded in 1974, has completed over 450 aviation projects and has a 40-year relationship with the FAA.
The firm’s President and CEO, Bob Wadell, presented the City Council with an overview of the project and updated them on changes that have taken place since the original 2002 airport plan was adopted by the County.
The ALP, slated for completion in summer 2015, will update the Bishop Airport’s inventory of facilities, assess future demand and facility requirements to meet FAA standards, prepare a 20-year capital improvement program, and provide an updated description of the plan.
Wadell, using a slide presentation, went through several high-priority infrastructure needs at the Bishop Airport.
The most obvious need is to repair and improve the existing pavements to the taxiway and runway. Another need: changes in airport lighting and signing, including a new Visual Approach Slope Indicators (VASI), and Runway End Identifier Lights (REIL). Security fencing will need to be installed, and the main runway extended. There was some discussion of new access roads, such as extending Wye Road, improvements to the terminal area, and the future addition of more aircraft hangers.
Hopes are high that the airport project will be successful and will eventually lead to the possibility of public flights by a regional airline. There is much work to be done, but Inyo County officials appear optimistic.
Those wishing to find more information or to comment on the Bishop Airport Plan can do so by sending an email to the Inyo County Public Works department at: BishopAirportPlan@inyocounty.us.