Taos Regional Airport is set to get a new terminal after an airport advisory board vote to approve a plan presented by Albuquerque-based Armstrong Consultants.
The new plan will bring a new one-story terminal of around 8,000 square feet to the airport, complete with cafe and conference space.
Two different terminal designs were submitted by Armstrong and architectural contractor Gensler to the airport’s advisory board last Thursday (September 22), one of which contained a design for a two-story terminal of approximately 10,000 feet. squares, in which the café, the conference room and a lounge would be upstairs.
Due to funding constraints, however, the council – on the advice of Taos Town Manager Andrew Gonzales – opted to approve the single-storey design. The city received a community development block grant from the state for $5.4 million, which covers most of the cost of building the terminal. Gonzales said the city will foot the rest of the bill.
While many members of the public expressed concern that a larger terminal would eventually expand the airport, Gensler’s consultants eased those concerns. “The building is really sized to accommodate the planes that are already operating from the airport today,” said Jonas Philipsen. “A small part of our request was what would happen if a commercial service ever came to the airport. This size terminal that we are showing today does not take that into account. So it is not oversized to take into account security and control of bags and things like that,” he added.
“We would like to scale it for increased capacity at some point, but that’s not the goal today,” Gonzales noted. “As we do with all buildings – building a house, you start with two bedrooms and allow yourself the option of adding a third.”
Gensler’s consultant, Rebekah Wagoner, said the focus of their design included three main goals: “The first being an GA-focused terminal. [and] really working to improve the passenger experience by creating efficiencies in operations. The second objective was to really capitalize on these incredible views to the northeast… The third objective is to optimize solar orientation. The sun is really powerful here in Taos and we wanted to capitalize on that resource,” she said, noting that they were considering integrating solar panels into the new building.
“The two-story plan, in my opinion, is a beautiful design. But there are obviously budget constraints,” airport advisory board chairman Al Rapp said at the end of the meeting. He asked the city and consultants what services would be allowed at the terminal and said he was happy with the single-story design that doesn’t open doors for checked baggage and TSA.
Rapp also questioned the airport’s future goals for the city. “My concern is that in the airport master plan there is this concept that we are talking about today and then there is an ultimate plan that talks about a 30,000 square foot terminal,” he said. he declares.
“The airport’s current master plan has everything in place to do that, and that’s what the community is seeing and why they’re alarmed,” added board member April Mondragon.
Gonzales reminded the board and the public that the master plan was a large-scale approach. “The way most master plans work, you pretty much throw the kitchen sink in there,” Gonzales said. “There is no desire to expand air service. There is no desire to add additional runways. There is no desire to bring carrier service here. There is no no desire for TSA. There is no desire for part 139. There is no desire to put a fire station at the airport.
Daniel Weeks, then a member of the board of directors – who was removed from his position on Tuesday evening (September 27) – presented a motion to approve the design of the single-decker terminal. The motion passed unanimously. The design of the terminal will now be submitted to the city council for approval.