First impressions haven’t always been the best ones at Blackwell Field Airport in Ozark.
But 15 years after the initial plans to improve the airport grounds and make it visible from U.S. 231, the airport’s facelift is finally underway.
Gencon Associates of Dothan has begun work on a general aviation terminal for business use at the airport that is expected to be completed by this coming summer. Stephanie Blankenship, the airport’s director of Aviation Services, said the terminal is expected to have a reception area, lobby and large and small conference room equipped with video conferencing and smart board capabilities. A kitchen and break area, pilot’s lounge for flight planning, as well as storage and the airport director’s office are also within the plans.
The outside of the terminal is intentionally similar to the exterior of the Alabama Aviation Center nearby.
Ozark Mayor Billy Blackwell said the terminal will be available for meetings and community events.
Blankenship said the total project cost will be $3,615,843, most of which is funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. The City of Ozark matched the funds with $822,767, and the Alabama Department of Transportation contributed $337,013.
Blankenship said the recent improvements took place after analyzing what the airport’s strengths were and where there are areas for improvement.
“Overwhelmingly our areas of improvements related to the services we offered to our pilots and the flying public,” she said.
Blankenship said a taxiway with lighting, as well as site work for the aircraft parking apron and vehicle parking lot, has already been completed at the airport.
The paving of the entranceway to the terminal from U.S. 231 and the paving of the aircraft parking apron and vehicle parking lot is expected to be completed by the summer.
Blackwell was city clerk when Ozark leaders laid out plans for a terminal 15 years ago.
“This is something to be proud of, to see something you planned 15 years ago come to a completion phase,” he said.
“This is as much for the community as it is for aviation.”
Blankenship said there are no intentions to build a commercial terminal.
“The airport is a part of economic development that we use to attract large corporations because many times your airport is the first thing they see,” she said.
“If they can’t see that you’re caring for your airport, how can you convince them that you’re taking care of your city?”