Conway’s new airport will have its grand opening on September 5.
The details are being worked out, airport manager Josh Zylks and Conway Chamber of Commerce vice president Jamie Gates said, but the city will take over airport operations on Sept. 1 and both airports will be open for a month, during which aircraft can migrate from the "old" airport to the new one.
"As far as the actual airfield is concerned, we’ve told the FAA that we’ll be ready on September first," Zylks said. "The airfield will be materially done, aside from some odds and ends, and we’ll be open."
One of the things that might not be "100 percent" finished on Sept. 1 is the fueling system, which should be ready a few days into September, Zylks said, "so people might want to wait until the 5th to start moving their airplanes."
All of the new airport’s 36 enclosed T-hangars are spoken for, and only a few of the covered aircraft tie-down spots are left.
Gates is working on the ceremonies and pageantry of the grand opening. He said speakers will be picked and a schedule should be ready next week.
Dennis F. Cantrell Field has been on the same 150 acres in what has become the middle of Conway since 1928. It is named after the man who operated it from 1947 to 1986. The new airfield, called Cantrell Field, in the Lollie Bottoms area has a longer runway and an airplane with engine trouble on takeoff or landing has a safer area for an emergency landing.
The city has contracted with developer Jim Wilson & Associates to sell the Dennis F. Cantrell Field property to be redeveloped as a large-scale shopping center, Central Landing. However, the contract obligates the developer to buy and develop the property only if the city builds what’s estimated to be about $18 or $19 million worth of new roads to access it. The roads would also help solve the city’s east/west traffic problem on Oak Street.
These roads, and therefore the Central Landing project, are at the will of Conway’s voters. A special election to rededicate an existing 1/8 cent sales tax currently bonded until 2021 to build road projects, which ties up the tax until 2044, is set for Sept. 9.