Chandler is counting on federal funds coming through this year to help the city alleviate helicopter noise in neighborhoods near Chandler Municipal Airport.
The city needs $2.5 million to $3 million to move the Chandler Municipal Airport’s heliport from nearby homes. A project to relocate the site has been four years in the making.
"The FAA has said they’re looking hard for grant money," said Greg Chenoweth, the airport manager. "We don’t anticipate it will be the full amount to do it."
The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to make a decision on funding by September since the new federal fiscal year starts in October.
Chenoweth said he expects Chandler will get enough funds this year to build only a "bare-bones" heliport at a new location with a landing pad, some parking, roads and utilities. It will be enough to move operations, but parking space won’t accommodate current needs or growth, he said. For that, the city will have to wait for the remaining funding.
Chenoweth said he is putting together a cost estimate to submit to the FAA for the first phase of the heliport.
In 1998, a study recommended moving the heliport because it was too close to homes. Chenoweth said he still gets a few complaints every month. He held a meeting with residents earlier this year to discuss the project’s status.
The FAA is supposed to fund 90 percent of the costs, with the rest split between the city and state, said Bryan Patterson, Chandler’s public works director. This year, the federal government gave the city $148,000 to design the new heliport, he said.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FAA’s priority has been on security, so Chandler’s project has taken longer to approve than expected, Patterson said.