Emily Jo Cureton, The Triplicate

Designs okayed, but so far there's no funds for work

It's not a place you can get to by a boat, or a train. It's far, far away.

Behind the moon, beyond the rain - somewhere over the rainbow, a new Crescent City airport terminal awaits.

On Wednesday, the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority Board took another step toward realizing the long-awaited project at Jack McNamara Field, approving designs that detail 50 percent of the final architecture and 40 percent of the mechanical aspects for a 14,800-square-foot terminal.

The board eyed life-like renderings by Vanir Inc. - images showing a

two-story building with a zinc roof curling around the seaward side,

lines echoing a perfect rainbow overhead.

Visually, "The building is not going to change. This is your

building," project manager Jim Aboytes told the board members, who

agreed that the construction bid process will start only after all the

designs are complete. This way, the construction could be done

piecemeal, as funding and reality allow.

"Hopefully it's shovel-ready by spring of next year. If funding comes," said Airport Manager Jim Bernard.

The building is expected to cost $6 million to $8 million, according

to Bernard. The rest of the construction, including runway improvements,

moving Dale Rupert Road over by 33 feet, a new apron, a covered parking

lot and engineering for off-site water/sewage connections coming from

Pebble Beach Drive, will bring the price sticker to around $20 million.

Vanir's renderings show a svelte flight attendant in a pencil skirt

departing the ticket counter as young backpackers stride through the

open circulation space; a lone child, hands clasped contemplatively

behind his back, gazes out at Castle Rock from the 1,300-square-foot,

second-story waiting area.

"We don't really have to decide on the colors now," Aboytes said,

handing Commissioner George Rhodes of Curry County a panel full of

material samples: earth-toned polycarbonate resins, basic wood to be

bought locally, a carpet swatch.

Funding from the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to cover

80-95 percent of the cost for the terminal building, which doesn't

include any whistles and bells the feds won't foot the bill for, such as

retail or restaurant space.

Terminal funding has not been applied for yet, and will not be

awarded until the airport completes another project: runway safety

areas. This ostensibly means filling holes and grading grass around the

runways to comply with safety regulations. The federal mandate came down

in 2007, while local compliance is still tied up in the state's

environmental permitting process, and politics.

Reach Emily Jo Cureton at ecureton@triplicate.com.