Small Maine Airport Expands with $2 Million Investment
PITTSFIELD, Maine — A small, rural airport that relies on business and tourism will expand services with $2 million in upgrades.
A new hangar and other upgrades have been in the planning stages for three years for Pittsfield Municipal Airport and will finally begin construction this 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 more money to the city, which will lease space at the hangar. The improvements will hopefully reduce the lack of space at the airport and new features could attract customers, said City Manager Kathryn Ruth.
In October, Pittsfield City Council selected Augusta-based Blane Casey Building Contractor Inc., which has already commissioned the shed, she said. The hangar will be built offsite and moved to the airport.
“We anticipate that over time, and probably quite quickly, the airport hangar will have multiple tenants and those tenants will bring businesses into the community,” she said. “It will be a better location for their planes, rather than being outside or at a smaller airport.”
The airport is managed by the city, which contracts with Curtis Air to manage day-to-day operations at the airport. It offers storage space, jet fuel and partners with Central Maine Aviation to provide jet rentals, flight training and scenic rides, according to its website.
Just over 30 aircraft are accommodated at the airport. Curtis Air and Pittsfield-based Cianbro built their own hangars last fall, freeing up space, Ruth said. The new hangar will bring six new spaces to the airport, which will be available for rent to businesses.
“For the past decade, we had little or no space available in private hangars. New businesses and new people moving into town or into the area who want to house a plane can’t do that,” Ruth said. “There is a waiting list. People are constantly calling in search of space.
Federal and state funding for the project is $1.9 million, including a $300,000 loan from Rangeley. The city’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”, given the size of the airport and the rising costs of materials and construction.
The airport suffered a variety of improvements over the years largely funded by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Maine Department of Transportation. This includes safety upgrades, the addition of snow removal equipment and a building to house it, new lighting, a runway built in 2004 and a apron remodeled in 2009 and 2010, Ruth said.