The Federal Aviation Administration’s long-standing wish for replacement of the Genesee County Airport terminal is moving closer to reality, according to the county official overseeing a $5.2 million project at the 240-acre landing field on East Saile Drive.
Highway Superintendent Timothy J. Hens said Wednesday that construction of a new energy-efficient terminal/office building and hangar is “well underway and about 80 percent complete at this point.” Construction is expected to be completed in mid-March.
Hens said that four contractors have been working since May on the 6,500-square-foot structure, which is directly behind and to the south of the existing terminal. The new building also will include space for a flight school, aircraft maintenance business and small cafe and restaurant.
Most important in the FAA’s eyes, the structure is being built farther away from the runway, Hens noted.
“The old terminal was built in the early 1960s, and standards have changed since then,” he said. “It was built too close to the runway and is considered a safety hazard. The FAA has wanted us to tear it down for the past 20 to 30 years.”
Hens added that the current terminal – a pre-engineered metal building – has “outlived its useful purpose.” He said,“It would have cost us a half-million dollars for a new roof, so rather than putting a lot of money into the old building, it made sense for us to put up a new one.”
The county secured a $1 million state grant and $211,000 in federal aid; the remainder of the project is being paid for with county funds. Hens said he hopes increased revenues generated by the renovations will be enough to pay off the bond.
“Our goal is to target business use – we get a lot of spillover traffic from Rochester and Buffalo – and to provide a great first impression and professional space for pilots and business owners,” he said. “Over the last five or six years, our fuel sales have been climbing, and we believe that will increase even more.”
Hens said the airport houses 67 planes and also is used on a regular basis by Mercy Flight, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and State Police helicopters, as well as business jets.
The new terminal is a two-story building and is slightly larger than the existing one-story terminal, which won’t be torn down until the new one is fully operational, which is likely in the fall. The new hangar is the same size as the old one – 14,000 square feet.