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New runway smooths the way for travelers

Animas Air Park reopens after resurfacing is completed

Animas Air Park will officially reopen for business today.

The air park’s 5,014-foot runway was closed for two weeks while it was repaved, and flights were diverted to Durango-La Plata County Airport.

AvFlight Durango, a fixed-base operator at the Durango airport, saw an influx in traffic because of the closure, Operations Manager Thomas Gibson said.

But Bob Wolff, vice president of Animas Air Park Property Owners Association, doesn’t think the small airstrip will have any trouble getting its customers back.

“We notified every plane that has a home here … they said they’d be back as soon as the runway opens,” he said.

The association has been putting crack filler and patching the runway for the last five years because of deteriorating asphalt. It finally decided to repave the runway this year after getting a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation to cover a majority of the costs.

The runway cost $550,000 to repave, and the CDOT grant covered 90 percent. The remaining 10 percent, or $55,000, was covered by the owners association, made up of the businesses that surround the air park.

Delvin Gregg, owner of Gregg Flying Service, is one of its members.

The closure slowed down his business for the two weeks, but he said the shop “prepared as best we could” and scheduled maintenance and other work to be done during the closure.

“We have a lot of work we can do in the shop, so we’re staying busy,” he said. “It wasn’t as bad as it might have been.”

The air park is small compared to Durango-La Plata County Airport about 15 miles outside of Durango, but the Animas Air Park caters to a different clientele, Wolff said.

“Mostly we get a lot of commuters and tourists that have airplanes that prefer to be closer to town than the La Plata field,” he said.

The air park is about six miles from downtown Durango.

It had 56 airplanes based there and about 25 takeoffs and landings a day in 2007, Wolff said. The air park hasn’t grown too much since then because of the economic recession.

According to a 2008 CDOT Division of Aeronautics economic impact study, Animas Air Park generated about $10.6 million in annual gross sales and average annual capital expenditures. The study is updated every five years.

jdahl@durangoherald.com

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