CARSON CITY — After months of decision making and back-and-forth discussions between the city of Carson City and Carson Health, as well as input from residents, the new hospital helipad is officially beginning to take shape as construction crews are now working to dig the foundation of the pad.
Ground was broken recently at the sight of the former Carson City water tower, which was purchased from the city by the hospital in January to be used as the site for the new helicopter landing pad.
“It’s exciting to see and it will be a great benefit to this community,” City Administrator Mark Borden said.
Construction workers with Roy Pung and Son’s Excavating Sand and Gravel, based in Fowler, began digging trenches that will eventually house the pad’s drainage system.
Carson Health Director of Plant Operations John Dennis said there have been no complications with the groundbreaking process thus far.
“It’s coming along smoothly,” he said. “We’ve got the site plotted out. We’re currently digging out the areas for drainage, but we’ve marked out where the landing strip lights will be, you can envision what it will soon look like.”
Dennis said the helipad will be usable once two poles belonging to Verizon Wireless are removed and the wires are buried underground.
“That’s the only thing that could hold us up at this point, aside from the weather,” he said. “We want to get this done before the ground is too hard.”
In January, Carson City Council approved the sale of the old water tower property to the hospital for $20,000, which was $12,000 less than the appraised value.
The lower price was approved because of the benefits the landing pad would bring to the community, according to Carson City Administrator Mark Borden.
A concern from a resident about trash blowing around from the wind generating from the helicopter blades was addressed after the hospital agreed to build additional height around the dumpsters.
According to Borden, the new site was the only suitable location approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a helipad.
Currently, when a helicopter lands at Carson Health, it utilizes the parking lot, which Carson Health Director of Corporate Communications Daniyel McAlvey said can be a difficult process as cars often must be moved to clear a space.
The helipad is expected to be completed before winter, Dennis said, however, he clarified again that the pad cannot be used until the Verizon Wireless poles, located along Elm Street on both the north and south shoulders, are removed, clearing the flight path of incoming and outgoing helicopters.