By Rick Davenport
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
How do you turn a $100,000 investment into $4.5 million? By all accounts, it’s a great return, but the city of Navasota is not taking its good fortune for granted.
After the east-central Texas town — located between College Station and Houston — committed funds for airport improvements, a landowner donated 18 acres of his property. And when that happened, it represented the 10 percent obligation necessary to trigger grant funding from TxDOT. As a result, the Navasota Municipal Airport (60R) now has a new 5,000-foot runway with a full-length parallel taxiway, runway lighting, beacon light and security fencing complete with keypad entry.
“All of these improvements are nice, but to have a facility that will accommodate corporate jets, it represents a real growth potential for us,” says Airport Manager Gary Johnson. “Now that we have a 5,003-foot runway, we can accommodate a wide variety of users.”
One person who will surely use the airport is the businessman who donated the land for the expansion. He, like many others in and around the airport, wanted his corporate jet to be able to land somewhere closer than Brenham or College Station.
“We really do have quite a few business owners and franchise corporations excited about this,” Joe Fultz, the chairman of the Navasota Airport Advisory Commission, says. “I remember when the runway at the airport was only good for practicing touch-and-go landings. We really have come a long way since then.” He points to the current waiting list of people who want to build hangars at the airport as proof of the continued growth potential.
But Fultz and Johnson realize they still have a way to go. To really compete with surrounding airports, they need a fuel station. But again, money is an obstacle. It will cost nearly $250,000 to build such a facility. To be considered for another grant, they have to prove that enough people will actually buy the available jet fuel.
“One step in determining that is a survey that will go out shortly to area business and property owners,” Johnson says. If enough people indicate they would purchase the fuel if it’s available, chances are good they will get it.
“An airport can be a real asset for a community, and we are trying to do everything we can to move forward.”