City Council takes next step to get airport’s first control tower

Boulder City Municipal Airport is working to get more organized.

City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to greenlight the creation of design plans to relocate and build an air traffic control tower from McCarran International Airport to Boulder City.

The plans, to be created by the Federal Aviation Administration, will look into how the city can safely deconstruct the tower in Las Vegas, transport it to Boulder City, and reconstruct it at the airport.

“We need this control tower,” Airport Manager Kerry Ahearn said. “We cannot keep up with the amount of air traffic we have with our old system.”

Ahearn said she is hoping the airport will have the tower within the next two years.

The control tower would cost from $2-5 million and would come from the airport’s enterprise fund, meaning it would come at no cost to the taxpayers.

“The entire cost of the tower will be from our user fees,” Ahearn said. “This is something the airport desperately needs and it will cost the taxpayers nothing.”

According to Ahearn, using an old control tower should save around $1 million, but creating a concrete design plan will show if making a new one saves more money.

“At this point we think that using an old control tower will save us more money,” Ahearn said. “But we have to look closely at the FAA’s design plan to know what will save us more.”

Boulder City has the third busiest airport in Nevada with only McCarran International and Reno-Tahoe International airports dealing with more air traffic, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The airport is the busiest in Nevada without an air traffic control tower.

“When I tell people that our airport is the third busiest in Nevada it is surprising,” Mayor Rod Woodbury said. “It is amazing we are that busy.”

In other airport news, the City Council also voted unanimously to extend its business agreement with drone company Aerodrome. The company currently leases 50 acres in Eldorado Valley that serves as a space for recreational and commercial drone flyers.

The agreement is reliant upon Aerodrome getting licensed by the FAA to serve as an airport for unmanned aerial vehicles. If approved, Aerodrome’s facility would be the first drone airport in the nation.

Aerodrome President Jonathan Daniels said he is confident the FAA will approve the facility.

The company’s agreement with the city also requires Aerodrome to file annual financial reports to prove that the business partnership is beneficial to the city.

“I am supportive of this partnership,” Councilman Cam Walker said, “but I want to see these reports so we know that Aerodrome is bringing business to Boulder City and not just flying drones around.”

Councilman Duncan McCoy also encouraged residents of Boulder City to participate in Relay for Life of Boulder City on Friday night. The charity event for cancer research starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. and will be held on the track at Boulder City High School.

Contact reporter Max Lancaster or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @MLancasterBCR

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