By Jennifer Bolton, Correspondent, Houston Chronicle
Published 1:46 pm, February 4, 2019
After a federal grant funded recent security and safety measures at Pearland Regional Airport, the facility’s management is hoping for another one to improve the facility’s infrastructure to meet aviation demands as the area population continues to surge.
The facility, a privately owned airfield open to the public, also has joined local governments in lobbying to extend Pearland Parkway beyond where it dead-ends at Dixie Farm Road, which the airport’s management company, Texas Aviation Partners, says is needed to improve access from roads.
Texas Aviation Partners was able to garner about $600,000 in grant funding from the Federal Aviation Agency for safety and security improvements that were completed last year and included restriping and remarking airport signage on runways and taxi ways and upgrading security gates.
If awarded, the second FAA grant would go toward upgrading runway lighting and navigational aids. The company would also like to build a new terminal building.
“This would be better for the public and for the travelers who come through the airport,” TAP owner Stephen Alexander said. “It would allow for more space for staff and for passengers.”
Alexander expects to to hear whether the grant is awarded by spring.
Call to extend parkway
TAP has joined Brazoria County and the nearby municipalities of Pearland, Friendswood and Alvin in advocating to the Houston-Galveston Area Council that the parkway be extended south.
“The proposed extension would go right through some of the property currently owned by Pearland Airport, and we are in total support of that extension,” he said. “One of our biggest challenges at the airport is roadway access. We have fantastic infrastructure aviation-wise, but unfortunately our access to streets and roads leaves something to be desired.”
Alexander said extending the major thoroughfare would attract new businesses as well as make it easier for passengers and for businesses based on on airport property.
“Airplane rental companies, flying clubs, flight instruction businesses, pipeline surveying groups, aerial photographers, aircraft maintenance — all of these businesses are currently working out of the airport,” he said. “We’ve experienced significant growth already, and the parkway would not only help us keep up with that growth but be prepared for more in the upcoming years.”
Role during Harvey
Another reason the parkway extension is important, said Alexander, is because of the airport’s designation as a reliever airport for Hobby Airport in times of disaster such as a hurricane.
“Pearland airport was an absolutely invaluable asset during Hurricane Harvey,” he said. “We were able to transport people to the state government in Austin, bring in disaster relief supplies, shuttle people back and forth, and all of this is because of the excellent drainage we have. While other airports were literally and figuratively under water, we remained open 24/7.”
He said population growth dictates that infrastructure improvements will eventually be needed at the airport.
“And when is the best time to upgrade drainage and other infrastructure? During road projects,” he said.
The restriping and remarking work funded last year through FAA money “make it easier for things on the plane side of things — what the pilots see from the air,” Alexander said. The airport’s gates were upgraded to be accessed through keypads.
The airport is home to a variety of tenants and businesses including flights schools and airplane and helicopter maintenance shops.
Built as a private facility in 1947 by Perry Brown of Friendswood, the 320-acre airport was transitioned to public use in 1950. Clover Acquisition acquired the property in 1957 and renamed it Clover Field. The airport, which has one 5,000-foot runway that can accommodate up to medium-size aircraft, was renamed Pearland Regional Airport in 2003. Texas Aviation Partners took over management in June 2013.