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Yeager extension plan (copy)

Most of the proposed runway extension for Yeager Airport would take place in Coonskin Park in an area now used for dispersed picnic shelters.

A layout plan for Yeager Airport that includes a 7,000-foot runway with 1,000-foot safety overrun areas at each end, requiring an incursion into a portion of Coonskin Park, has been accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA acceptance of the plan clears the way for the Charleston airport to move on to the next step in the development process — having an Environmental Impact Study prepared for the planned improvements, Yeager Director Nick Keller told members of the airport’s governing board on Wednesday.

But FAA acceptance of the plan does not constitute a commitment to fund the project. That decision won’t be made until or unless the outcome of an EIS proves favorable to development, Keller said.

The layout plan includes space for a possible future addition of another 1,000 feet of takeoff and landing space to create an 8,000-foot runway. It also depicts a possible 50-acre site for off-runway development that could be created from the borrow area used to produce fill for the runway/safety overrun extension.

Most of the proposed runway extension into county-owned Coonskin Park would take place in an area now used for dispersed picnic shelters.

Keller said the governing board should be able to select a contractor to complete the EIS for the project in September. Public comments on the project will be a part of the environmental study, which could take up to three years to complete, he said.

Also on Wednesday, Keller told board members he had met with Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Tom Williams and personnel from the state Board of Education to discuss possibilities for an aviation curriculum for Kanawha County middle and high school students in partnership with Yeager.

Such a program would help secondary school students transition into the Marshall University School of Aviation taking shape at Yeager, and could be augmented with internship programs, project-based learning opportunities and site visits to the Charleston airport, Keller said.

Construction is expected to begin Monday on Marshall’s classroom building and hangar adjacent to Yeager’s general aviation area. Last month, Paramount Builders of St. Albans was awarded a $6.79 million contract to complete the project in time for the fall semester of 2021.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.