Reconstruction of the main runway at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport is complete and came in $300,000 under budget, according to airport manager Randy Marshall.
Marshall told the City Council on Tuesday that the project, for which the airport got a $4.3 million Federal Aviation Administration grant, started May 2 and was completed July 2, when the airport reopened.
The project included not only paving the runway, which is 5,500 feet long and 100 feet wide, but also installing 100 lights, 19 signs and navigational aides, Marshall said.
“There was a lot to accomplish in a very short time,” he said. “We came in around $300,000 under budget, which we were all very, very surprised to see and happy to see.”
The FAA is allowing the airport to use the leftover money for other needs, he said. He said airport officials are proposing to use some of the money to build about a mile of fence and install gates at the airport.
Council Chairman Fred Stubbert, D-Ward 1, asked whether the money could be used to pay for construction of a utility building, but Marshall said that would not qualify.
In May and June, the airport took a major hit because it was closed and couldn’t accommodate the usual summer campers and students, he said.
In addition to completing the runway project, the airport worked with the state to seal cracks in taxiways at LaFleur, Marshall said.
“The airfield, I can say without a doubt, is in the best shape it’s been in many, many, many years,” he said.
The state and city each pitched in $214,000 for the project, he said.
“We had the 5 percent budgeted in and 10 percent contingency budgeted in, and we haven’t touched that,” he said.
While the airport was closed, a self-service fueling system also was installed, according to Marshall. In August, 122 people fueled their aircraft with it, allowing the airport staff to do other work, including repair projects.
“That’s been a huge, huge time saver for us,” Marshall said.
He noted that the airport experienced an electrical break and workers from Central Maine Power Co., crews from the FAA’s Bangor and Augusta offices, and the city’s Public Works Department helped to find and repair the break.
“We’re up and running again. It was exceptional work on their part to help us out,” Marshall said.
Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, said she hadn’t visited the airport in a while and visited it several weeks ago and was extremely impressed with what she saw.
“You’ve done a great job there, Randy, and the city’s very, very lucky to have you, and I hope you can open it up to the public. …” she said.
Marshall said he couldn’t take all the credit, as he has an outstanding crew.
Two years ago, the secondary runway at the airport was rebuilt.
In other matters Tuesday, Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, a Waterville resident and Democrat who represents District 109, announced that John Morris, commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety, will be one of two people inducted Sunday into the Holland Club, a club that recognizes those who served aboard U.S. submarines and have lived an honorable life for more than 20 years.
Morris, former Waterville police chief who also is a Navy veteran, will be inducted at 12:30 p.m. at the American Legion in Augusta, according to Longstaff, who will represent the Legislature at the ceremony. He said Gov. Paul LePage also will be present.
The Holland Club was named for John P. Holland, who designed the first U.S. Navy submarine.