County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

Airport Committee Considers Hangar/Terminal Condition

80D Still Aspires to NPIAS Status



Cleaver Staff Writer

HARRISON – At the March meeting of the Clare County Airport Committee, a discussion of turf runway 9/27 repair was led by Scott Taylor. He broke the process into multiple steps: soil sampling to determine needed amendments, then applying them; and finally determining the proper grass seed. Taylor also offered suggestions of what equipment would best be used, along with a seeding cost breakdown.

Discussion continued regarding the work needed to complete the airport hangar/terminal building and a motion was approved to solicit bids for that work.

Also at that meeting, a first draft of the proposed Clare County Airport Policies, Rules, Regulations and Standards. Suggestions for tweaks, deletions, additions and clarifications were offered and discussed.

The seemingly perpetual Old Business list of Spring Projects gained a little headway at the April 23 meeting, as the Rotating Beacon Light Shed Repairs and the Windsock tower repair advanced from no update to needs assessment. Even more forward motion was seen as Repair of Turf Runways had moved to sampling complete and awaiting results and the New Gates purchased from Nevill Supply Inc. had moved from no update to schedule a date for installation.

The plan is to do leveling, reseeding and fertilizing of runway 9/27 in August.

Gale Bensinger’s manager’s report, he noted that he and Stephanie Whitinger, MDOT Bureau of Aeronautics, had toured the airport and the tree trimming, runway lights off on the closed runway had been checked off, and that he had signed the FAA Form 7480-1 to enable formal closure of runway 23/5. Bensinger noted that Whitinger had said that as soon as a couple weeks the closure could be official. He also reported the windsock tetrahedron had suffered from a recent high wind, resulting in a damaged bearing which needs removal and replacement. Bensinger also said he had checked out the beacon light shed, and said it was in good repair with no interior leaks, but does need repainting.

Bensinger also spoke with Whitinger about the windsock, who said it could be moved anywhere [after closure of runway 23/5] as long it was 200 feet off the edge of a runway. Additionally, it was noted that the previously granted provisional license had been issued in error, and the non-provisional license is in place and good through the end of the year.

Under discussion of the runway repairs and painting for this year, it was noted that crack filling and painting on runway 36/18 is on hold until Wendy Chen, also MDOT-BOA, does her evaluation. It was noted that the Airport Restaurant lease had been signed; that Bensinger would be attending the Airports 101 Course for Airport Managers.

Under New Business, the Committee heard a grants update sent along from Administrator Lori Phelps that she couldn’t find any airport grants available until the airport can show sustainability. There was the possibility of a grant with a 30% match. It was noted that there are grants available for NPIAS airports. At which time, Gabe Ambrozaitis stressed the need to get into the NPIAS [National Plan for Integrated Airport Systems] and described the current chick/egg dilemma of federal funding being available to NPIAS airports, 80D not being eligible for that federal funding because it is not a NPIAS airport, and that to become a NPIAS airport requires upgrading which in turn requires money. Ambrozaitis said he believes there is still a slight, narrow opportunity to get into NPIAS, but that it would require a “whole boatload of self-help to get up to that level.”

He also noted that NPIAS funding would pay for only one runway at a general aviation or basic level airport, and that 80D focus should be on the 36/18 runway lights. In addition to crack fill and painting slated for this summer, he suggested that for cost savings, those runway lights could be standard, possibly hand-me-downs from another airport which has replaced all its analog lights with LEDs.

It was noted the airport budget needed to be submitted to the County Administrator by the end of the month, and that $15,000 was left of the $20,000 appropriation. Members moved to approve the aforementioned Airport Rules as revised, as well as to move the Airport Committee meeting time from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the previously established meeting dates.

Ambrozaitis then offered a slide presentation of his tour of the frozen-in-time, incomplete renovation of the Airport 80D hangar/terminal and the input he had received from local contractor Jeremy Carriere who had accompanied him. The tour and evaluation resulted in the following list of needed structural improvements: Replacement of all three doors with commercial grade doors; Replace windows; Install firewalls; Install insulation; Repair soffit; Level ground around hangar for drainage; Install 10 additional beams; Cage off the foundation vents; Reposition bathroom stool and sink for ADA compliance; Drywall and flooring; and Install gutters on the south, east and north sides of the building.

While the needed work is obvious and bids are being sought, it was noted that any work to be done under grant funding would require certified drawings – and those cost money.

Also attending the meeting was Mark Fitzpatrick, county building inspector, who offered his take on some of the problems, including the surrounding soil damage done when ice/snow slide from a metal roof. That has apparently caused berms around the building, which in turn have essentially caused water retention/infiltration into the structure. He also stressed that “There’s more to it than meeting code.”

He said that engineering is going to be the baseline from which to move forward with completing the terminal, and that an engineer should be able to give a raw estimate of cost. However, with firms currently in high demand, securing an available engineer for an estimate and to produce the certified drawings would take some time.

Ambrozaitis was specific in the need to place engineering ahead of lights, and that there is a need to actively market 80D. Fitzpatrick agreed, adding that “Activity breeds activity.” Ambrozaitis noted there are currently five lots that can be marketed and reiterated a previously stated need to explore construction of a 10-aircraft hangar.

The Airport Committee will meet next at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 21 in the Board of Commissioners Room, Clare County Building, 225 W. Main St. in Harrison.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here