Completion of a cement parking lot at Hays Regional Airport in coming weeks will happen at just the right time, City of Hays Assistant City Manager Jacob Wood said Thursday. 

Wood reported on the project’s progress to the Hays City Commission at their regular meeting.

More parking will be useful because passenger boardings at the airport are on the rise, said Wood. That’s partly the result of adding a flight to Chicago O’Hare International Airport a few months ago in April and partly due to increased marketing by the city, he said.

“Our airport numbers have been some of the best we’ve had since we started recording this,” Wood told the commissioners. Total boardings for June 2018 were 1008, up from 787 in 2017 when the airport also offered two flights a day, but both of them to Denver International Airport. In 2015, total boardings in June were 632.

A fare sale starting Aug. 1 will apply to both destinations. Wood told the commission the airport’s carrier, United Airlines, is offering $89 one-way fares from Hays to both Denver and Chicago through Aug. 29.

United flies a Bombardier CRJ 200 out of Hays with seating for 50 passengers. There are two flights a day Monday through Friday to Denver, and one each on Saturday and Sunday. To Chicago, there’s one flight a day Monday through Friday and one on Sunday.

The city’s Public Works service division is pouring a 165-foot by 84-foot concrete parking lot that has previously been only gravel. The $30,000 project will be finished in two to three more weeks, Wood said.

Hays City Commissioner Shaun Musil welcomed the improvement.

“I was just out there the other day and there were lots of vehicles parked on the grass,” Musil said, indicating he’s glad to see the airport is busy.

While flights from Hays are more expensive than from a major airport, Wood said, the fare becomes competitive when taking into consideration that a trip to fly out of Denver or Kansas City will entail parking fees, hotel expense, longer waits in security lines, and the inconvenience of the drive. Passengers from Hays board from the tarmac from a nice terminal with flights that arrive and depart on time, he said.

“You can fly out of Hays and be anywhere in the world,” Wood said. “We feel like overall it’s a really good deal.”

In other business, the commission:

• Approved a project to annex a 6-acre piece of farm ground at 48th St. and Roth Ave. for development as a Tractor Supply Co. retail store. The location is north of Interstate 70 catercorner from Sunflower Bank and just north of Wal-Mart on land called the Crawford Addition, owned by Crawford Supply Co., Hays. Tractor Supply plans to buy 3.6 acres.

• Set a public hearing date of Aug. 9 for the 2019 budget.

• Authorized a low-bid contract with American Fire Training Systems for $145,917 to build a three-story drill tower at the Fire/Rescue Training Facility.

• Received Mayor James Meier’s proposed appointments for three city boards. For the Fort Hays Municipal Golf Course Advisory Board, he recommended David Ashbaugh, Ron Augustine and Josh Dreher. For the Hays Beautification Committee, he recommended Judy Dawson and Jim Strine. For the Hays Area Board of Zoning Appeals he recommended Michael Berges. The commission votes on the appointments at their regular meeting Aug. 9.

• Recognized JoAnn Jordan for her property at 3306 Willow St. as the residential property winner of the 2018 Water $mart Landscape Award. Recognized Commerce Bank for its business property at 2200 Vine St. for the business property award. The annual award by the Hays Beautification Committee and the City of Hays recognizes a resident and a business owner who have implemented water conserving turf and landscaping on their properties.