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"Rialto Airport: Move to San Bernardino advances"



Friday, September 14, 2012

 

RIALTO AIRPORT: Move to San Bernardino advances

New hangers are being designed for them at San Bernardino International Airport

BY KIMBERLY PIERCEAL

The Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise

 

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Little activity goes on at Rialto Airport these days. The last few tenants could find a new home at San Bernardino International Airport.

 

Seven years after an act of Congress ordered Rialto Municipal Airport closed, the effort to shift tenants to San Bernardino International Airport took a small step on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

 

The San Bernardino International Airport Authority awarded contracts worth up to $1.8 million combined for the design of hangars that will serve private pilots and the San Bernardino County sheriff’s aviation operation.

 

TR Design Group, a Riverside-based company that built a city call center at Riverside Municipal Airport as well as structures near March Air Reserve Base, was awarded up to $902,720 to develop plans, including architectural and engineering, for the sheriff’s hangar.

 

An $868,500 contract went to Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. for design work and oversight of the eventual construction of amenities for private pilots and their planes that would be relocated from Rialto to San Bernardino’s 32-acre site.

 

Funding will come from the authority’s related Inland Valley Development Agency. The agency has so far received approval from the state’s Department of Finance to use bond revenue for the new hangars and amenities. State law dissolved redevelopment agencies earlier this year and forced them to seek approval from the finance department when they want to spend property tax revenue on unfinished redevelopment projects.

 

The IVDA has estimated it could cost $9.55 million to build the sheriff’s hangar, according to the list of financial obligations approved by the state. The general aviation improvements could cost nearly $7 million.

 

In 2005, Congress made the rare move to close Rialto Airport because the city — the airport’s owner — wanted to see the land developed with homes, retail and other improvements. A large portion of the money earned from selling the land was supposed to have gone to the San Bernardino airport to create space for the tenants forced to move. But the economy soured, land values plummeted, and no land was sold or developed. Tenants still pay rent month-to-month at Rialto Airport, where weeds are visible sprouting from the runway.

 

Recently, the city of Rialto approved a complicated deal to contract out its water management in order to earn money to reimburse San Bernardino airport for a portion of the costs.

 

Rialto Airport, which has been further tangled in uncertainty because of the dissolution of the city’s redevelopment agency, is expected to close by 2014, said Chad Merrill, project manager for the IVDA and San Bernardino airport.

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