Hangar project cleared for construction

Article by Steve Garbacz of KPC Media

KENDALLVILLE — The price came in a little high, but close enough that a new jet hangar should be a reality at Kendallville Municipal Airport in the near future.

The Board of Aviation Commissioners will still need to officially approve a contractor's bid later this month, but the early indicators look good that the airport has the money to fund the building it wants.

The aviation board opened bids for the 10,000-square foot building — it's technically being classified as a utility building in order to get around more expansive requirements the Federal Aviation Administration for a "hangar" — on July 6. The airport got two bids, one that was about $1.3 million and a second from Strebig Construction, Fort Wayne, at about $1.2 million, board President Mike Jansen reported.

The aviation board had anticipated a project cost of about $1 million, but had solicited enough local funds to complete a project that was slightly more expensive.

By removing a well and a sprinkler system from the jet hangar, Jansen said the project should fall right within the airport's funding capabilities. Although the board questioned about whether a sprinkler was needed, it was noted that none of the other existing hangars have sprinklers, either.

"Even the $1.2 million was much more than we anticipated, but it appears there’s a 12-inch well and sprinkler system that could be removed from their option," Jansen said. "That would bring us down to a $1.1 million project, which is within our ability to afford."

Mark Shillington of Woolpert Inc. is still reviewing the schematics submitted by Strebig and checking unit costs and the board will likely need to host a special meeting in the coming weeks to officially award the bid.

The bids are good for up to 30 days but no longer due to the volatility of material costs, most notably steel, due to ongoing domestic and international trade conditions.

"We’re looking good. It looks like we’re going to have a hangar," Jansen said.

At the earliest, construction wouldn't occur until fall, because the project won't be able to advance until the FAA approves funding for the project. The federal agency will be providing 75 percent of the cost, with the rest made up from state and local sources.

The FAA would award its portion of the funding around Oct. 1.

Board members will be discussing among themselves and with city leaders about whether to begin construction this year or to hold any building until 2019.