Friday, September 26, 2008

Road projects, airport on mayor’s agenda

By Eric Miller • Hendersonville Star News • September 26, 2008 The mayor is running unopposed in the upcoming election, almost certainly ensuring another four years in office, barring an unlikely write-in campaign. With another four years to carry forward his agenda, Mayor Scott Foster said he will continue to work toward his goals of completing road projects in progress and helping the Sumner County Regional Airport expand for the benefit of Hendersonville’s economic development. Short-term goals for Foster include moving forward on infrastructure projects currently in various stages of completion.“First of all, we need to continue those projects that need to be finished,” Foster said. “It takes an enormous amount of time to develop those projects at the state level.”Projects proposed or currently underway include the realignment of Saundersville Road due to be completed in early 2009 that will connect to Indian Lake Boulevard and move beyond it to connect to the Wessington Place neighborhood via Grapevine and Milburn Roads and Scotch Street. Other projects include extending Rockland Road to Center Point Road to provide an alternate route for the Vietnam Veterans bypass and a project to interconnect and resynchronize the traffic lighting throughout the city.Foster considers the highlight of his first term to be the library, which holds its grand opening next week.The new 38,000 square-foot building, more than twice the size of the previous library on Dunn Street that recently closed after 40 years, is scheduled to have a grand opening next week.The new library features a separate story time room for children complete with a built-in, drop-down screen; a separate children’s activity room; meeting space that can be accessed by groups when the library is not open; a separate periodical reading room; four private study rooms; a reading porch and fenced-in garden; and a separate young adults area complete with computers specifically for teens.As his likely second term nears, Foster said he is focused on continuing infrastructure-related projects currently underway and pushing forward on expanding the Sumner County Regional Airport in Gallatin.Expanding the airport will be a big boost to economic development efforts, according to the mayor. A longer runway and more hangar space is needed to attract more corporate headquarters to the city of Hendersonville.Many corporate jets currently can’t land at the airport due to lack of runway space and those that can must have optimum weather conditions to even attempt a landing there, something that has made recruiting corporate headquarters more difficult, Foster said.“We’ve lost several big fish because of the length of the runway at the existing airport,” Foster said, who has been working with the county, airport and other agencies to further expansion efforts. “I think we’ve got tentative support to expand the runway from 5,000 feet to 6,300 feet.”Hanger space is also an issue for potential corporations, Foster said. The airport currently has 15 privately owned single-plane hanger spaces, another 30 owned by the airport and approximately 28 outdoor tie-down spaces and a waiting list of people wanting to use the facilities.Making progress on the airport expansion is contingent on the cooperation of several entities, including the county. When a new county executive is elected in November, the mayor said he will talk to the newly-elected official about moving the project forward. Star News reporter Tena Lee contributed to this article.

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