BIDDEFORD, Maine —More than a dozen Maine airports are getting nearly $5 million in grants from the federal government.
The Biddeford Municipal Airport and Sanford Regional Airport at getting $320,000 apiece.
Biddeford will use the money to build a new security fence.
“All we have here right now is this rope. What the FAA wants is for us to secure the airport just to keep people off and away from the planes,” said Biddeford airport manager Frank McCutcheon.
Biddeford’s airport has a 3,000-foot runway. Forty pilots lease spaces or hangars, which generates $30,000 a year for the city and $6,000 in excise taxes paid to register the planes.
In addition to the security fence McCutcheon said the grant money will be used to replace a beacon light that lets pilots know it is an airport.
McCutcheon said small, regional, municipally owned airports have a purpose and it takes money to make money.
“It’s the same as the highways. I mean all of the highways. There’s federal grants and highways, bridges, all of those types of things. They are all federally funded and they all cost money. It’s an amenity. It’s like a recreation center or playing, ball fields and stuff like that. That’s how you attract people into your town,” said McCutcheon.
The Sanford Regional Airport will use its federal money to replace a taxiway. There is a flight school at the airport and a restaurant that employs a dozen people. Restaurant owner Rene Bernier said without the financial backing from Washington and the commitment from the city, she wouldn’t be in business.
“A lot of my customers fly in from all around Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, Florida and if it wasn’t maintained out here, they wouldn’t be able to be here, so I’d lose them,” said Bernier.
In all, 15 Maine airports are getting federal money.