Jet hangar will be bid by summer

Article by Samantha Whiting of KPC Media

KENDALLVILLE — A new jet hangar at the Kendallville Municipal Airport appears cleared for takeoff as aviation board members approved moving forward on design of the new $1 million building.

The board’s “bogey,” the amount of money they need to raise to fully fund the project, also shrunk significantly since April, thanks to a contribution from the Noble County Economic Development Corp.

Aviation board members met May 2 at the airport to continue discussing the project, this time joined by consultant Mark Shillington of Woolpert Inc., the firm hired to help draft a preliminary design and put together bid documents for contractors.

Shillington started with a brief update about an environmental review on the proposed site at the airport, noting the only possible hiccup was a map that showed the possibility of some wetland ground near the building site. But Shillington said a specialist came out to the airport and walked the ground, determining the proposed building site was free of wetlands.

After that, Shillington asked board members to pin down where exactly they want to locate the hangar, since he will need that information before creating a draft schematic. Initially he had put it in line with other buildings about 55 feet away from the existing apron, but noted it could be moved closer to about 25 feet, which would save money on concrete.

Board members and airport manager John Kline ultimately decided to keep it in line with the other buildings, since moving it closer would likely only save about $10,000-$15,000 of the total cost.

“This is one of the places where we could save money if we have to save money if the bids come in high,” board president Mike Jansen said.

Shillington said he would begin drafting the design, which board members could review in June before it is sent out to bid with contractors. The bids will need returned in early July and the board will need to have a contractor selected by July 10, in order to comply with scheduling for the Federal Aviation Administration grant, which is paying the majority of the cost of the project.

As far as funding, the airport made a notable stride in cutting down the amount it needs to be able to build the new hangar.

The project is expected to cost about $1 million, with the FAA providing $690,000, the state adding about $39,000 and the airport providing a matching $39,000.

Previously the Kendallville Local Economic Development Corp. offered to provide $110,000 and the Kendallville City Council is providing $10,000, leaving the remainder as the “bogey” board members have been trying to whittle down.

Jansen pitched the project to the Noble County Economic Development Corp. in mid-April, since the new hangar would be a benefit to companies outside of Kendallville. The county EDC board was receptive and agreed to match the contribution made by the city’s development board.

“The Noble County Economic Development Corp. has also given us $110,000 toward this project,” Jansen reported.

Jansen said the board will seek funds from one more organization, but that they won’t receive any information about a possible grant until June. Even still, the amount the airport needs to fund the project has dwindled enough that it should be able to afford it even if additional money isn’t pledged.

“We’ll be in good shape. We’re doing well,” Jansen said.

In other business Wednesday, Kline reported continuing problems with the oft-malfunctioning PAPI light system on the runway. The system, which helps guide planes safely into the airport, has been blowing out and melting bulbs at an unusual rate and now an issue developed with major swings in light intensity from bulb to bulb.

“The lights are worse now than they’ve ever been. If we can’t get this fixed I’ll have to shut them off,” Kline reported.

Board members agreed to send a strongly-worded letter to the firm that installed the lights and could potentially seek to claim money from a performance bond secured on the project.