MERIDEN — Meriden Markham Municipal Airport is once again buzzing with the hum of airplane propellers.
After a $1.88 million reconstruction of the airport’s runway and taxiway, a job that took just shy of two months, takeoffs and landings resumed this week.
The daily buzz of airplane propellers is something Constance Castillo, manager of Meriden Markham, said she had missed. The airport’s last flight before the project was on Aug. 23.
Castillo explained the upgrades had been badly needed. Prior to the project, the airport’s 3,100-foot-long and 75-foot-wide runway was last repaved more than 15 years ago and beyond its useful life.
The work included new LED lighting and drainage improvements.
The first flight since the project began was on Wednesday, said Castillo, who was joined by Mayor Kevin Scarpati, City Council Majority Leader Sonya Jelks and other officials for a ceremonial ribbon cutting celebrating the new runway and taxiway on Friday.
The project’s entire cost was covered by a Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program grant. Castillo said the grants typically require a 10% local match, which was waived.
Officials said the project began and ended on time. In fact, it was completed a day ahead of schedule. This week, the tenants, most of whom were displaced to other airports while the project was underway, had returned.
The project was helped by fortuitous weather — work began around the time Hurricane Henri, by then a tropical storm, arrived in New England. The storm minimally impacted the region.
Scarpati said the fact the project was completed on time and under budget was a credit to the contractors who carried out the work.
Jelks, who serves as the CIty Council’s liaison to the Aviation Commission, credited the airport’s staff for keeping the facility “alive and viable.”
Jelks said the airport is “a critical part of who Meriden is and where we’re going and what we want to do. We’re so grateful for all the work that goes into the airport and all the work that goes into updating it for the future.”
Mark Poole, owner of the Meriden Aviation Center school that operates at the airport, described the past two months as having been rough for the center’s instructors and students.
But classes are getting back to normal. “We just moved the airplanes back… We just reopened yesterday,” Poole said. “Flights will be going out.”
Lt Col. Jim Whitesell, vice commander of Connecticut Wing Civil Air Patrol, was similarly elated.
Whitesell said Civil Air Patrol, a public service organization that carries out emergency services and disaster relief missions in the air and on the ground, had been an airport tenant for longer than he knew.
Abby Weaver, of Southington, is a cadet with the patrol. She attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, with the hopes of becoming a pilot in the military, flying C-17 cargo aircraft.
The 18-year-old said it’s good to be back at Meriden Markham.
“I definitely missed it. I’m glad to be home,” Weaver said.