Twisp officials recently learned the town will receive the largest airport grant ever awarded by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
The state has not yet formally announced this year’s airport grants, but WSDOT Aviation told Twisp Public Works Director Andrew Denham by phone that the town would get $500,000 to expand the asphalt apron in front of the hangars at Twisp Municipal Airport.
Despite the unprecedented size of the award — the next-largest grant from WSDOT Aviation was $309,165, given to Okanogan Legion Airport in 2018 — it will not be enough to cover the project town officials had originally planned. They had asked for $698,000 to build a full taxiway parallel to the runway.
Town officials and the project contractor are discussing how to move forward, given the reduced scope of the project. Pilots at the airport have already agreed to contribute the required 5% matching funds to the project, which would be $26,000.
Airport Manager Bob Wagner told the Twisp Town Council on Wednesday (Aug. 7) that the pilots still support the project, despite its reduced scope. Pavement at the edge of the apron is deteriorating, and the apron has become too narrow for planes to traverse safely, Denham and Wagner said.
“This is going to make a lot of people happy out there,” Wagner said. “It will save a lot of propellers.”
The airport improvements would be completed this year, Denham said.
Twisp received $500,000 out of a total of $1,439,000 that WSDOT awarded this year, said Eric Johnson, construction and grants program manager for WSDOT Aviation. The agency received applications for 44 airport projects and funded 21 of them, Johnson said.
Everyone involved with the grant on Twisp’s end was happy with the result, despite not getting the amount they had asked for.
“For Twisp to get a half million of the million and a half [offered] is a great deal,” Denham told the Town Council.
The council on Aug. 7 voted 3-0 to accept the award. Councilmember Hannah Cordes was absent, and Hans Smith did not vote because he was presiding over the meeting in Mayor Soo Ing-Moody’s absence.
Also last week, council took the formal step of accepting a $750,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce that will go toward construction of a town Civic Center and Emergency Operations Center.
The state’s award, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, isn’t new; Twisp learned it would receive the money in 2017. But the town could not accept the grant until it had secured the rest of the money it would need to pay for the building.
Full funding was realized this spring, when the Legislature earmarked $1.29 million for the Civic Center/Emergency Operations Center. The total construction cost is estimated to be around $3 million. The existing Town Hall will be demolished to make room for the new building.
As the Civic Center, the new building will include administrative offices and meeting spaces. Mayor Ing-Moody has emphasized the importance of the Emergency Operations Center, which is intended to improve coordination among responding agencies during wildfires.