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"Santa Fe Municipal Airport improvement project makes sense"


 
Monday, June 19, 2017

Our View
Airport improvement project makes sense 
The Santa Fe (NM) New Mexican
 

Improvements to the Santa Fe Municipal Airport? Absolutely. Expanding the 
airport's capacity for passengers - most likely through a new terminal - makes 
sense.

The process is in its early stages, which gives all airport users, concerned 
citizens and other interested parties time to weigh in. Right now, the city is 
considering a $35 million proposal to build a new passenger terminal and 
improve roads, parking and airport parking ramps. Funding sources could include 
a mix of state, federal and city dollars, but nothing is set in stone.

Airport officials are in the process of showing other city leaders the changes 
that are being considered. Last week, the City Council's Public Works Committee 
heard a briefing; we expect to hear more about the terminal plans in the weeks 
and months ahead.

The focus on better airport facilities is a smart one, for several reasons. As 
we have said before, the public-private partnership to increase flights into 
Northern New Mexico is good for our economy. This is the sort of investment in 
long-term economic development that will make Santa Fe a better place to live 
and work, as well as benefit all of the north.

Mayor Javier Gonzales and his team, supported by the City Council, understand 
that bolstering the economy isn't done best at a news conference or with flashy 
announcements. There is the smart but often slow work of improving 
infrastructure, supporting transportation hubs and, generally, making it easier 
for folks to communicate and move around.

It only makes sense to have a city and region that is easy for travelers to 
reach, whether they be vacationers, film industry workers or our own citizens 
leaving for world travels or to visit grandchildren in Phoenix. Who wouldn't 
rather drive 10 minutes to catch a plane than have to take the interstate to 
get to the Albuquerque International Sunport?

Using the municipal airport, though, only will make sense if flights are 
convenient - and that includes everything from departure times to parking and 
getting in and out of the terminal. The expansion plans, if done right, could 
improve the traveling experience and attract more passengers.

Kudos to members of the airport and city staff who are beginning the planning 
process for these important changes to the airport. A new terminal could be 
placed on a site on the east end of the airfield, with the current terminal 
remodeled and used for administrative offices, a conference room and a viewing 
area.

So far, so good, but the plans need careful scrutiny and thought as the city 
begins this process. Citizens have to be kept up to date (already, some are 
writing with concerns about expansion; in Santa Fe, everyone has an opinion, 
and that's a good thing).

The airport produces some $78 million in economic activity and supports about 
680 full-time jobs. Its continued success matters to all of Northern New 
Mexico. Smart planning now will pay dividends in the future.
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