As the city of Sherman continues to explore development for its municipal airport, it will have a new guiding voice to help in decision making. After more than 16 years of inactivity, the city reinstated the Sherman Municipal Airport advisory board and appointed its first members.
The reestablishment of the board is one of several acts by the city in recent months to revitalize and spur redevelopment in the small airport. The revitalization of the board is one of of the recommendations that came out of the first phase of a master plan for the airport, which was completed earlier this year.
“Hopefully, I can provide some information to the board because I work with the city and have been a part of the master plan process,” said Sherman Director of Finance Mary Lawrence said who is one of five people who were appointed to the board in October.
The board was dissolved in 2002 during a period in which the future of the airport was uncertain. At the time, there were discussions on if the airport should be closed permanently.
These talks and sentiment have stayed with the airport for more than a decade, even as city leaders have pushed in recent years to further develop the airport. These recent efforts have been fueled by new interest from the aviation industry, including developers who have expressed a desire to build on or near the airport.
A developer approached the city earlier this spring with plans to build a residential development just outside the airport’s footprint with through-the-fence rights for runway access. The proposed development would feature residences with personal hangars for aircraft included. Other developers have expressed interest in developing additional hangar space, citing a persistent demand for aircraft storage.
Lawrence, who has been active in the drafting of the city’s airport master plan, said she was initially hesitant to apply for the board, given her position with the city. However, she was encouraged by Assistant City Manager Terrence Steele to apply due to her experience with the airport and as a pilot.
“I would not have done it because I did not want them to feel like the city was directing them,” she said. “They will be the ones advising the city council.”
The remaining four members are all aviators in their own right but come from varied backgrounds including a former airport director and a pharmacist, Lawrence said.
The board will see a returning face as Ross Richardson will be serving on the board. Richardson is the only returning member from before the board was dissolved in 2002. During his tenure, Richardson helped coordinate two capital improvement packages that included the construction of the main runway and the taxiway extension.
“I am very excited that the airport board has been reestablished and the city is interested in taking it into the future,” he said.
Many of the issues that Richardson said he wishes to push are already being addressed as a part of the city’s master plan process. Richardson said his key issue is the construction of additional hangar space at the airport.
“Ever since I’ve been with the airport, we’ve had 20 or more people on a waiting list for hangar space,” he said. “If you have a waiting list that doesn’t change, people either drop out or it dies out.”
The city recently applied for a $50,000 matching grant through the Texas Department of Transportation toward the construction of a new seven-unit hangar building at the airport. While this wouldn’t fully meet current demand, Lawrence said it may be the first step in future hangar development.
The board is expected to hold its first meeting on Oct. 30 following an open house at the airport. The event will give residents a chance to look at the second phase of the master plan and give feedback before it moves before the city council.
While five people have been appointed, two seats remain vacant on the board, Lawrence said. However, the city has had additional applications since the initial set of appointments were made and she now believes the board will be filled by the end of the year.