PITTSFIELD, Maine — A small rural airport that relies on business and tourism will expand its services thanks to $2 million in improvements.
A new hangar and other improvements had been in the planning stage for the last three years for Pittsfield Municipal Airport and will finally begin construction in the spring.
The project, which includes a new building and other improvements to paved areas where planes travel on the ground, totals more than $2 million and will bring in more money for the town, which will rent space at the hangar. The improvements will hopefully ease the space crunch at the airport, and new features could attract customers, Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said.
In October, the Pittsfield Town Council selected Augusta-based Blane Casey Building Contractor Inc., which has already ordered the hangar, she said. The hangar will be built off site and moved to the airport.
“Our anticipation is that over time, and probably relatively quickly, the airport hangar will have several tenants and those tenants will bring businesses to the community,” she said. “It will be a better location for their aircraft, rather than being outside or a smaller airport.”
The airport is run by the town, which contracts with Curtis Air to handle day-to-day operations at the airport. It offers storage space, fuel for airplanes and partners with Central Maine Aviation to provide aircraft rentals, flight training and scenic rides, according to its website.
Just more than 30 planes are housed at the airport. Curtis Air and Pittsfield-based Cianbro built their own hangars last fall, freeing space, Ruth said. The new hangar will bring six new spaces to the airport, which will be available for companies to lease.
“For the last decade, we’ve had little to no space available in the privately owned hangers. New companies and new people that move to town or to the area that want to house an airplane are unable to do so,” Ruth said. “There’s a waiting list. People call constantly looking for space.”
Federal and state funding for the project totals $1.9 million, which includes a $300,000 loan from Rangeley. The town’s contribution is $75,350, Ruth said.
Rangeley had received federal funding for a project and was unable to spend it due to delays. Instead of losing the money, Rangeley loaned it to Pittsfield, which will repay the entitlement funds in the future, Ruth said.
She called the plan “a miracle project,” considering the airport’s size and rising costs for materials and construction.
The airport has undergone a variety of improvements over the years, heavily funded by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Maine Department of Transportation. That includes safety enhancements, the addition of snow removal equipment and a building to house it, new lighting, a runway built in 2004 and a remodeled apron in 2009 and 2010, Ruth said.