Mar 272015

By Tammy Gray

A charity organization’s plans to lease property at the Holbrook Municipal Airport will not affect operations or the city’s master plan for the airport.

The Holbrook City Council held the first reading Tuesday night of an ordinance that would allow the lease.

City Manager Ray Alley explained that the land the group would like to lease is currently being used for parking and storage, and the lease would not change the function of any area of the airport. It would, however, result in a new hangar at the site.

“They want to build a 3,000 square-foot hangar,” he explained.

Wings of Faith, a Christian organization focused on serving Native American populations, hopes to construct the hangar to store small aircraft, food and supplies, and vehicles. The group already uses Holbrook as a satellite location for delivering food and other supplies to the Four Corners area, as well as local organizations such as Bread of Life Mission and Naomi House.

Alley explained that if approved by the city council, the agreement with Wings of Faith would be similar to one used to construct an existing hangar at the airport. According to Alley, the pilots’ association constructed the facility and operated it under a long-term lease, but the city technically owned the building.

“They’ve been working on this for some time,” Alley said. “Now their funding has come through and they’re ready to start.”

A June 2013 Wings of Faith newsletter noted that the hangar project is expected to cost around $120,000. It is intended to reduce shipping and fuel costs for the organization, as well as create a shorter route for volunteer pilots.

“The Holbrook hangar project will allow us to reach 10 locations in the Four Corners area of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado within 20 minutes to one hour of flying time,” the newsletter notes. “From our current base in Corona, it takes six to eight hours for a round trip to reach these destinations.”

The organization is already storing food and supplies at a warehouse in Holbrook, as well as a vehicle to facilitate deliveries. The hangar will also serve as a protected repair and maintenance area, and protect aircraft against damage. According to the newsletter, volunteer pilots have experienced wind damage at the Holbrook airport in the past. Alley noted that the group has also been allowed to use the airport lobby to store food and supplies, but is in need of additional space.

Wings of Faith has been serving the area for 38 years, according to the newsletter, and assisted Naomi House, a home for neglected and abused Native American children, with a water well project.

The council will not take any action until a second reading of the ordinance authorizing the lease is held. If approved, an agreement will be drafted that will lease the property to the group at a negligible rate.