New hangar tentatively set for design in 2019

Mead & Hunt gives substantial update on airport affairs

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MIO — The Oscoda County Board of Commissioners decided on a tentative size and location for a new $300,000 hanger at the Dennis Kaufman Memorial Airport at the Oct. 9 board of commissioners meeting.

The commissioners made the decision at the end of an update on the status of airport affairs from Mead & Hunt Inc. representatives Stephanie Ward and Benjamin Hoover. Their company helps the county with design and planning of the future of the airport. Ward is the Vice President of the company and Hoover is a civil engineer. During that update, the state of the helipad, maintenance efforts, possible future runway obstructions and infrastructure plans were all discussed.

The most fiscally impactful of the matters was how the commissioners laid the foundation for a new hanger at the airport. Ward and Hoover said as of now the airport is seeing roughly 3,000 operations per year, and has had a waiting list for pilots to get their planes into its hangers. They said with the commissioners approval they could get more people off that waiting list.

“We’re looking for what you like, this is not a final format but we want input today,” Ward said. “… We can build any kind of hanger you can dream up. No matter how big, square or rectangle.”

The hope is that the more room for planes there is, the more money the airport will bring into the county. Commissioner Larry Wilson said he knows of one particular person who is interested in starting a skydiving venture at the airport.

After looking at multiple options for hangars and locations the commissioners decided on a 4-unit box hangar slightly north of the runway on the east end of the property. It was estimated the building alone, without including infrastructure or pavement costs, would be between $300,000 - $350,000. According to Mead & Hunt, the airport is expected to have slightly less than $400,000 saved up between its various federal, state and local funding sources to pay for the project by August of 2019.

In order to try to offset the high cost, the Mead & Hunt representatives mentioned a grant that the county may be able to acquire. The grant would come from a recent Federal Aviation Administration supplemental funding initiative that is setting aside $1 billion for airport-related projects. The grant would help pay for the infrastructure needed to support this new hangar, as well as any others in the future. The deadline to apply for the grant is Oct. 31. Hoover said the county has a solid chance of receiving the additional federal funding.

“Because Oscoda is a small community it is listed as a priority status area,” he said. “… We think we’ve got a pretty good chance. With design not due until 2019 it gives us enough time to put this through the process.”

The original plan for the new hangar was to begin designing it in 2019. As of now that is still the plan unless the county receives the aforementioned federal grant money to help with the construction. In that case, the project would be delayed a year in order to wait for the grant money to come in.

Ward said Mead & Hunt should know whether or not the county received the grant funding by June or July of 2019. She said at that time the new commissioners will be able to get more information on how to proceed.

Commissioners Wilson and Pat Kelly spoke about maintenance efforts on the runway and at one of the hangers.They said after a couple break-in attempts at one of the hangers one of the pedestrian doors needed to be replaced. Wilson said the steel door cost roughly $300 and should thwart any future attempts at unauthorized entry. In addition to the door replacement a crack-seal application is to be undertaken. The board voted unanimously to spend approximately $1,900 on the project. Wilson said the project will be completed with Michigan Department of Transportation approved materials.

Next an update on the concrete apron project was given. Construction on the helipad was completed at the end of September. Ward said once everything was said and done the project was completed $7,000 under budget. BOC Chairperson LaNita Olsen said it is important to remember this is not meant for recreational helicopter use.

“I want to reiterate this is for emergency type situations,” Olsen said.

Ward elaborated on Olsen’s statement by noting the helipad would have been double the price if it was going to be created for regular use. She said to think of the helipad as a parking spot for helicopters, not a place for them to regularly land.

Ward changed topics and began mentioning possible areas that may soon have trees obstructing the airspace of the runway within the next five years. Ward said the county will most likely end up footing the bill to take the trees down, as there are only a few causing issues.

“There are less than a dozen trees obstructing the runway soon,” Ward said. “If we use federal money, all of the trees on the parcel will be removed.”

While talking about the parcels of land the trees are located on, Wilson broached the topic of selling the two parcels of land the county owns on Popps road. He said he recently heard from a resident who may be interested in purchasing the properties if the price is right.

The county originally purchased the properties roughly two years ago as the property had a condemned home on it. Wilson said the goal was to obtain the airspace above the property to ensure nothing interferes with the airport. The properties were originally purchased for $21,000. Wilson said if the county had purchased only the airspace it would have cost upwards of double what they paid for the entire property. If the property is sold, the county would still maintain the rights to the airspace.

Wilson said he is under the impression the county will not be able to make its money back by reselling the lots. He said the best possible price he can imagine receiving would be $7,000 for both properties together. Kelly took that estimation a step further, saying he believes the county would receive at best $5,000.

There was a short discussion about the type of dwelling that could be built on the property if it were sold. The consensus after the discussion was that it would be acceptable to build a single family living space, but a multi-tenant structure would be prohibited. Kischnick said he is not convinced selling the property is in the best interests of the county right now.

“I see some problems arising if we do go through with selling it,” he said. “I think we’d be better off leaving it to the next board.”

After deliberations the commissioners came to the consensus to allow the next board to decide whether or not to sell the properties.

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