Council Studies Airport Plan
March 19, 2014
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  • Consultants and members of the Fremont City Council on Tuesday walked through drawings of four potential terminal area layout plans for Fremont Municipal Airport.

    The city council study session served as the second public meeting with Airport Development Group since the company was hired last fall to prepare a terminal area plan. The firm presented preliminary information to airport users and city officials at a Feb. 13 meeting.

    Council members on Tuesday did not indicate which alternative they want consultants to pursue, opting to take more time to study the drawings.

    Council members Larry Johnson, Todd Hoppe and Jennifer Bixby were absent. Mike Kuhns arrived later in the meeting.

    A final presentation to the city council is expected to take place in April.

    “The whole catalyst for this project was you would like to get a new terminal building,” Rick Bryant of Airport Development Group told the council. “You would like to relocate it, and you would like to do a little rearranging of the house, if you will. The terminal building has some issues. It’s an aging facility, and it’s had a very useful life. As part of any relocation or redesign of this terminal area plan, it’s going to require a new building.”

    Dean S. Fajen of the architectural firm HGM Associates Inc., studied the 1962 terminal building.

    “It is showing some signs of deterioration, plus I think there are some functional issues too that may be addressed,” he said.

    He showed a concept of what an addition to the existing hangar might look like with a larger lobby, training and conference rooms, new office, reception area, spaces for line workers and flight planning, sleeping areas for pilots and larger restrooms.

    Fajen estimated that renovating the existing building would cost around $175,000, renovation with an expansion would cost about $850,000, and a new terminal building would cost about $950,000.

    Other reasons for preparing the plan, said Steve Marshall, planning project manager for Airport Development Group, include anticipated constraints on automobile parking when the 23rd Street viaduct is built, and a waiting list for new hangars. The Federal Aviation Administration and Nebraska Department of Aeronautics encourage updating the plan periodically, he added.

    “One of the most important things to go down this path is economic development of our community. We’ve already seen, since the extension of the runway (in 2010), I would say a tremendous amount more traffic than we’ve had five years ago,” Mayor Scott Getzschman said. “We’re there with the airport, but five years from now, I feel without either refurbishing of the terminal and more taxiway and more ramp space, we’re going to be left in the dark.”

    The first alternative focuses on improving the existing terminal area. Other alternatives envision terminal development along West 23rd Street, Airport Road or the main runway.

    Getzschman said his early preference is for Plan 3, which would provide access to the airport off of Airport Road.

    “Although where the terminal is sited in Plan 3 is a distance away from the main runway, it does allow us to have at least a view of the field … and actually brings us off of Airport Road and keeps the taxiways free from any vehicle traffic,” he said. “It gets us closer to utilities, which is ultimately something we have to worry about, too.

    “It kind of fits our Airport Layout Plan that we have now, and to me it seems tremendously more safe,” he said.

    Plan 4, which seems to offer the best view of the aprons and runway from the terminal by moving the facility across the airport to the southeast end of the main runway, met resistance from Getzschman, who said the move would require costly infrastructure improvements.

    Marshall emphasized that the final terminal area layout plan is not a firm commitment by the airport and does not obligate funding, but rather serves as a “road map” for planning potential phased development over five, 10 and 20 years as demand arises.

    “It may set the groundwork for future funding. It is very much the beginning of the conversation,” he said.

    If all of the improvements over the life of the plan were made, the estimated cost would be about $4.6 million. Marshall emphasized, however, that no engineering design work went into the plan, and estimates were prepared for discussion purposes only.

    Plus, he added, some improvements may be eligible for 90 percent reimbursement by the FAA. In fact, the FAA is reimbursing 90 percent of his firm’s fee to prepare the plan.

    The airport has about $600,000 set aside — four years’ worth of $150,000 per year funding from the FAA.

    After settling on a plan, conversations will begin with the Nebraska Department of Avionics and the Federal Aviation Administration about potential grants to help fund improvements.