The property in west Roswell that was the site of the city’s municipal airport for many years is now ready to be further developed for the benefit of the community and its citizens. While specific plans for use of the property have yet to be fully formulated, an important step was recently achieved that freed up the city-owned land for future development.
The city has spent two and half years working through a process of providing information to the Federal Aviation Administration to show that the City of Roswell has fulfilled its obligations tied to FAA financial grants awarded decades ago to Roswell’s former municipal airport. The sought-after result was achieved recently when the city was notified the FAA has acknowledged the city has met its obligations and the federal agency has released the property of the old airport for the city to use as the city determines.
Although the old municipal airport property belongs to the city and some development has taken place through the post-airport years (Cielo Grande Recreation Area, Recreation and Aquatic Center, Noon Optimist Park and Little League fields, and commercial and government buildings), additional development has been awaiting the FAA’s release of the city from stipulations and restrictions that were part of the federal money previously awarded to the airport when the property functioned as such.
The city began pursuing the FAA’s official release of the property in early 2019, leading to the long process of meetings and correspondence between the city and FAA, with the city’s efforts being led by Administrative Services Director Juan Fuentes. His efforts resulted in the FAA issuing its formal property release to the city in an Aug. 27 letter.
The property lies generally to the north and south of College Boulevard and between Sycamore Avenue on the west and Montana Avenue on the east. It was the site of Roswell’s municipal airport from the 1920s until 1970 when airport operations were transferred to the new Roswell International Air Center – known today as Roswell Air Center – at the south end of the city.
“It is great news that over 50 years after the old municipal airport was closed, the FAA has released control over this space so the city can proceed with exciting development projects,” Mayor Dennis Kintigh said. “Thanks to Mr. Fuentes for his over two-year commitment to getting this resolution.”
The stipulations tied to the earlier FAA grants were consolidated in a 1967 city resolution in which the city recognized its obligation to put a little more than $953,000 into the new airport – the current Roswell Air Center – to essentially balance out the total grant funds the FAA had awarded to the old airport that was no longer going to be used for that purpose. The FAA more recently also indicated it wanted the city’s financial contribution into the current Roswell Air Center during the last six years to at least equal the current $3.75 million property value of the yet-to-be-developed 312 acres of the old municipal airport, which overall totals slightly more than 500 acres.
Fuentes’ research determined the city has surpassed the required monetary amounts in the form of air center projects, many of them focused on infrastructure improvements. Some of the more significant ones relate to water and sewer lines and related water and sewer system items, plus two new water towers that were recently completed.