Runway extension approved for Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport

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A $25 million extension and resurfacing of Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport’s runway has been cleared for takeoff.

Project officials said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved plans to “daylight” a portion of Butterfly Creek in the city’s Northside community.

The runway extension requires an on-site creek to be piped and covered. Federal wetlands protection guidelines require the city to mitigate the impact by buying credits for use in an off-site stream protection project.

“We’re very happy to be moving forward,” said Darwin Simpson, the airport’s director. “The purpose [of the project] is to add 1,000 feet to the runway and to resurface the existing [runway]. We’re not currently in compliance with FAA guidelines. This is a major safety issue for people in the aircraft and people on the ground … It will benefit the Northside and enhance the beauty of the community.”

Simpson said the project would enable the airport to land any size corporate jet.

He said some prep work has already been carried out, but the runway extension and resurfacing will begin on June 20. It will be done in four phases and should be completed in late 2017.

Simpson said 90 percent of the project’s funding will come from the Federal Aviation Administration. The S.C. Aeronautics Commission will kick in 5 percent and the remaining 5 percent will come from the city.

The airport will soon begin a separate project to construct a children’s playground on its property at 500 Ammons Road. City and state resources will fund the $600,000 project, Simpson said.

Jay Squires, streets and storm water manager for the city of Spartanburg, said the creek project is the first urban mitigation site the Army Corps of Engineer has ever approved in the state.

Squires said the project would cost about $2 million.

It will involve the creation of a 150-foot buffer and a 2,200-foot walking trail along the creek from the new T.K. Gregg Center on Preston Street to College Street.

The public will be able to access the creek near the Hub City Farmer’s Market. A pedestrian bridge and an outdoor learning laboratory are planned for the trail, which project officials hope to eventually tie in with the Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail.

“I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to the team who has worked on this for the last two years,” Squires said. “We are very excited about it. We think it’s going to have a big impact on the community.”

During its meeting on Monday, June 13, city council approved a $148,380 contract with Spartanburg-based Capital Construction of the Carolinas for a streetscaping project on Magnolia Street between St. John and West Main streets.

The project includes widening the sidewalk from 10 feet to 12 feet, new trees, LED streetlights and four spots for outdoor dining.

“We think this will make those building on Magnolia even more attractive to future development, some of which is already underway with the new Miyako Sushi restaurant and rooftop bar under construction,” said city spokesman Will Rothschild.

The Magnolia Street project is the third of eight streetscaping projects approved for $2.3 million by city council in 2014.

In other action during the meeting:

-Council approved the second reading of its $37.2 million budget for the 2017 fiscal year. The budget includes a 2.5 percent pay increase for city employees with no tax increase. It projects a 4 percent increase in revenue.

-Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to accept property owned by the S.C. Department of Transportation to be purchased by Claude E. Burns III. The vacant property is at the northwest corner of East Blackstock and Reidville roads.

-Council accepted the donation of a property at 206 N. Forest St.

-Council received an update from Patrick Anderson and Grey Wicker of the Hub City Hog Fest, who said the downtown barbecue festival raised $77,522 for Mobile Meals this year. That was the highest amount raised in a single year since the festival’s inception in 2013. In total, it has raised more than $200,000 for the charity.

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