Council approves land purchase for airport project
The Hammond City Council voted 4-0 to approve an ordinance to purchase land for the Hammond Northshore Regional Airport.
The land purchase has been a priority for Mayor Pete Panepinto who knew the land was needed to enhance the safety of runway 13-31 and to provide for the airport's future.
Earlier this year, the City Council denied the purchase because they believed the cost was too high.
Currently, the airport has a displaced threshold on runway 13-31 of 690 feet, meaning planes must take off earlier or land shorter rather than using the entire runway length. The displaced threshold is caused by the height of the trees on the land that the City is seeking to buy.
Louisiana DOTD-Aviation believes in the project and has authorized a $1 million grant for the land purchase. The City of Hammond needed to provide an additional $300,000 to secure the land purchase from its owner since it appraised for $1.3 million. Mayor Panepinto didn't let the price tag deter him. Instead, he raised $230,000 from private and public entities to match the grant. Much of the funds have come from pilots and plane owners who recognize the critical safety aspect of the project. Additional funds have come from economic development entities that realize the value of business owners landing their jets in Hammond and seeing first-hand the opportunities that are here for their business expansions or relocations.
At their last meeting on December 10, the City Council approved to use up to $70,000 from the grant match fund to complete the purchase.
The ordinance authorizing the land purchase was also introduced at the December 10th meeting. The ordinance language is as follows:
Introduction of an ordinance to authorize the Mayor to enter into an act of sale for the purchase by the City of 19.35 acres, more or less, and all improvements, along the southerly side of US Hwy. 190; the easterly side of Gahn Lane and westerly side of Wainwright Road in Section 21, T6S, R8E, Hammond, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana from Robert A. Maurin, III and Jamestown, Inc. for the price of $1,300,000.00.
After tonight's vote, Mayor Panepinto expressed his deep gratitude to the City Council, saying "They recognized the safety and economic development aspects of this project. Tonight's decision ensures the airport's future growth."
Panepinto personally put up the first $10,000 of private contributions to make this project a reality.