A new or renovated airport, as well as improvements to the city’s water and sewer system, are near and long-term goals for Osceola’s economic future, the town’s mayor said Tuesday.
Dickie Kennemore said council members met Monday with officials with Little Rock-based McClelland Engineering about the water/sewer projects as well as voted to hire North Little Rock-based firm, Garver Engineering, to complete a feasibility study on the airport issue.
The water and sewer system upgrades, which are expected to take at least five years to complete, will be done in three phases, Kennemore said.
The first phase involves the city taking over the nearby Driver/Grider water system, where much of the economic development including the Big River Steel project, has been happening in recent months. Also, lines will be looped back to U.S. 61 and upgraded to support industrial customers, which use a lot of volume, Kennemore said.
The second phase will provide sewer service to the area near Arkansas 198, while a third phase will put another line and lagoon into the town’s industrial park.
A key part of the project will involve funding, Kennemore said. While no money has been earmarked for the project as of yet, Kennemore said the city has been awarded a $2.4 million federal Economic Development Administration grant, which could be utilized for the projects. The city may also tap into part of a $1.8 million city surplus at the end of the year to help pay for the city’s 50 percent of the funding for the project, Kennemore said.
Garver Engineers will be working on the study to determine if a new airport or an expanded one will meet the city’s needs.
Kennemore announced in July that a new airport, with a 10,000-foot runway and a fixed based operation would cost around $10 million to complete. There are at least four sites on U.S. 61 and Arkansas 140 that have been under consideration for the new airport.
The city’s current airport has a 3,800-foot runway, where large jets cannot land. Officials have stressed that a larger or expanded airport could help in business recruitment.
The agreement with Garver will allow the company to do the feasibility study and to apply for a FAA grant to help with the airport project. Kennemore said no money has been set aside for the project, but noted that if or when the grant were approved, the engineering company would be paid for their work. The project would also be funded by federal FAA funding, Kennemore said.