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City moves forward with airport improvements
Council to hire airport consultant
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City Manager Bob Bolz brought before the city council Monday a committee recommendation for a consulting firm that will spearhead improvements to a local airport that the city is in the process of purchasing.

Bolz said that a committee made up of himself, Mayor James Grogan, and pilots Alan Redmon and Dick Brannan reviewed statements of qualifications from three consulting firms that are currently prequalified with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

A legal ad that ran in the Dawson County News in March asked for statements of qualifications as part of the city's efforts to select a firm that can offer planning, design and construction administration services for improvements to the Elliott-family owned airport.

Bolz said in March that once the company is selected and the council approves, and if GDOT is in agreement, then the city can start to negotiate charges.

Bolz said during the council work session April 17 that the committee is recommending Lead Edge Design, Inc. as the company to conduct the improvements.

"They recommended unanimously to go with Lead Edge," Bolz said. "I would like [for] at the May 1 meeting permission from y'all to go ahead and contact Lead Edge and get some pricing proposals to do their first scope of work and identify their first project."

Bolz also said that Lead Edge was familiar with the project and had been involved with it for more than 10 years.

In the documents he provided the city council, Bolz wrote that "[Lead Edge] discussed at length the need for public education to alleviate many of the negative perceptions certain members of the public have for this project and an airport in general."

The two other firms that sent proposals were Goodwyn Mills Cawood, Inc. and Robert and Company.

Having Lead Edge on hand is just part of the preparation, Bolz said. GDOT is still in the process of conducting a feasibility study to determine if the airport is even viable.

"If [GDOT] decides that it's feasible and [the Federal Aviation Administration] decides that it's feasible, then we'll have a consultant that can help answer questions and help us through that process." Bolz said in March. "Hopefully in three or four months we'll have heard from GDOT, but who knows."

The council could vote May 1 to accept Leading Edge as its airport improvement consulting firm.
The council voted March 6 to ratify an agreement that transfers ownership of a portion of the Elliott Field airport runway to the city.

The agreement hinges upon a grant from the FAA and GDOT, which if attained would allow the city to purchase the rest of the runway as well as surrounding airport property from the Elliotts.

The agreement states that if the city and Elliott family cannot agree upon the purchase price of the additional acreage by Nov. 1, 2017, the land will automatically revert back to the Elliotts.

The council announced its plans to attain the airport for public use on Feb. 6 after a discussion in executive session.