Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Airport Advisory Board Meeting, 7/26/16: Finalizing Design of New $27,000,000 Airport Terminal Held Up by City Commission

Brownsville S.P.I. Airport Advisory Board
Attention to detail differentiates the Airport Advisory Board from the GBIC.  While the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation typically approves projects involving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars thirty seconds after BEDC Executive Director Jason Hilts presents them, the Airport Advisory is more analytical, careful, involved in the minutiae of airport projects.

Chief Operations Officer Sesha Vorrey, as always, gave a slide presentation detailing the progress of a multitude of airport projects at the 7/26/16 meeting of the Airport Advisory Board.

When newly installed Airport Director Bryant Walker mentioned that the deadline was approaching to submit a final, approved design for the new $27,000,000 airport terminal, board secretary Chris Hughston interjected:  "Didn't the City Commission take the design decision away from us?  Since that time, we've not heard back from them."

Advisory Board Chair Alcocer, Airport Director Walker
Board Chairman Manuel Alcocer explained that, despite not having a design decision from the City Commission, work on the terminal has continued:

"Actually, the engineering of the terminal is set, that is, the format for the actual building.  All that's lacking is the actual look of the facade on the exterior of the building."

"My role, as I see it," began Airport Director Bryant Walker, is to get this board to agree on four possible designs, then narrow that down to two and present those two to the City Commission for a final decision."

Board member Jose Angel Hinojosa said the actual design was not that important to him as long as it didn't make him "regurgitate."  

That comment got a muffled laugh from Assistant City Attorney Allison Bastian.

One project, a $2,500,000 General Aviation Hangar, was experiencing cost overruns, risking FAA approval, according to Bryant Walker.

"We've had to scale that project back to a cargo building," Walker explained.  

When Chris Hughston reacted in disbelief, Walker explained that the building would be constructed in such a way, that it could be utilized and revamped into a hangar at a later date, if needed.

"Do you have a tenant for the hangar?" asked Walker.

"We have a tenant who will lease half the cargo facility once completed," continued Walker.

Hughston seemed satisfied with that response.

Work on one end of the runway extension has to be completed before it can be connected to the current runway, according to Walker.

FAA monies have already been allocated through 2018 according to Walker, affecting the runway project.  He said that since most of the FAA's approved projects were based on 90/10 matches, it was possible that the local airport could "leap over some FAA projects" if it could find financing enabling a 85/15, federal to local, match.

Another issue is a needed master plan for the airport.  Walker explained that the current master plan, set in place in 1997, is now obsolete after the changes in the way an airport must operate after the 9/11 tragedy.  

"Generally, a master plan has a life expectancy of twenty years," offered Walker.

Correction:  We reported incorrectly in a recent story that Ed Rivera was no longer on the Airport Advisory Board.  That is incorrect. Ed was at today's meeting and participated.


  1. Brownsville has neglected their airport for at least two decades.

    1. Tony Martinez is currently taking an interest in the airport because of SpaceX requirements.



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