A federal grant will help Sugarloaf Regional Airport in Carrabassett Valley improve the recreational programs that draw tourists and winter sports enthusiasts to the region, town officials said.
The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded the airport $130,000 to buy a nearby land parcel to both preserve recreational uses and provide room for expansion.
The 2.3-acre plot, off Route 27, is next to the airport. It will be used for airport development, according to Carrabassett Valley Town Manager Dave Cota.
While no definitive plans have been made for development of the area around the airport, one possibility under consideration is leasing part of the land to owners of private aircraft to build hangers for storage of their planes.
The land being acquired also has an important recreational use. Snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle riders use a trail on the site to connect to other trails in the Sugarloaf resort area. The town will maintain and groom the trails throughout the winter.
“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for some time,” Cota said.
The total cost of the land, including consulting fees, appraisals and closing costs, is about $143,000, Cota said. The town and the state will kick in $6,500 toward the local share, according to Cota.
The grant is part of a package of $3.3 million in federal aid for Maine airports announced by U.S. Rep Mike Michaud, D-2nd District. Bangor International Airport received the bulk of the funding — about $1.4 million — for a projects that include modifying the airport’s terminal building.
Central Maine Airport in Norridgewock received $150,000 to buy new removal equipment, which will keep the airport serviceable during snowy periods and aid in the efficiency and safety of operations, according to the release.
“Our equipment is extremely old,” said Kris Wallace, operator of Central Maine Airport. “The last time we updated our equipment was in the early 1990s. It’s not adequate enough to handle snowblowing or plowing.”
Pittsfield Municipal Airport also received $150,000, for an updated airport master plan study.
“I applaud the FAA for making these critical investments in Maine’s airports,” Michaud said in the news release. “There is no question that investing in our transportation infrastructure creates jobs. These funds will help to make air travel in Maine more reliable, make our airports more efficient and secure and improve safety for the traveling public.”