Federal Aviation Administration officials have encouraged Lawrence to apply for grant money to help with $10 million in proposed airport improvements, Assistant City Manager Debbie Van Saun told city commissioners Tuesday.
"We've had positive interaction with the FAA," Van Saun said. "They are amenable to getting the these applications from us."
It doesn't mean the city will get the funding, but it is a good sign, Van Saun said.
The project list includes items ranging from $700,000 for more airplane parking space to the $5.5 million needed to extend a runway. The federal grant program provides 90 percent of the funding for approved projects. The city would need to provide the other 10 percent.
Rick Bryant, chairman of the Aviation Advisory Board, said he likes the city's chances.
"Conservatively, we might get 50 percent of that," he said.
In addition to the grant update, the airport received city commission attention on two other fronts Tuesday.
Commissioners voted to request proposals from companies that would be willing to study ways of expanding the sewage capacity for the airport.
Commissioners are interested in a comparison of conventional sewage disposal systems that would deliver wastes to the wastewater treatment plant and disposal systems that use wetlands to process wastes.
Michael Almon, who has advocated for the wetlands technology, said he was worried that it would be hard to find a company to give an objective assessment. He said companies tend to specialize in one method of disposal or the other and would be prone to push that method.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said it is normal for companies to team up and pool their expertise when making proposals like this one.
Bryant said he had no preference as long as it allowed more businesses to locate at the airport soon. He said the airport is turning away businesses because it has no more sewage capacity.
"We really don't care at the airport what we have to handle it, but we do need to get it done quickly," he said.
Commissioners also agreed to request proposals to survey, plat and prepare a stormwater management plan for the airport property. Those tasks have never been done.
Van Saun said getting them done would make it easier to develop the airport.