Menomonie Municipal Airport needs more space designated for hangars.
The airport has 28 hangars, which house 31 aircraft, said public works director Randy Eide. One spot is open for a hangar and that has been spoken for with the hangar expected to be built later this year.
“The Airport Commission with the Bureau of Aeronautics and the city of Menomonie is looking at areas we can expand so that more general aviation hangars can be built,” Eide said.
Engineering firm MAS of Madison has done preliminary concept designs and the Airport Commission has directed the company to complete designs to look at areas north of the airport terminal and southwest of the terminal, known as an east site. The designs include extending taxiways to the new sites designated for hangars.
The north site could house maybe a dozen hangars and the east site possibly seven or eight, Eide said.
“We generally let people build hangars to the size they want,” he noted.
Airport Commission chairman Dan Johnson noted in an email the commission has been working on the issue for about a year.
“There is steady interest in general aviation hangar development here. Our last lot is gone,” he said.
Eide said he is not surprised the airport needs additional hangar space.
“It’s a very user-friendly airport,” he said. “There are two runways serving the airport. There is a new terminal building. Gibson Aviation Services is on site for mechanical work. It’s an attractive site for general aviation use.”
The airport does not have a corporate hangar, but businesses do use the airport, Eide said.
“The airport is a hidden gem in economic development in Menomonie,” he noted.
Runway lights were updated in 2014, precision approach lights were upgraded in 2016 and runways and taxiways got new surfaces in 2016, Eide said.
About $500,000 is available to prepare sites for hangars, Eide noted. The funds come from the Bureau of Aeronautics from airport user fees on items such as ticket sales and fuel sales.
Site preparation estimates for the east site are about $500,000 and the north site work would be about $300,000, Eide said.
Darrel Gibson, owner of Gibson Aviation Services and the fixed base operator for the airport, said the sites need taxiways, utilities and be leveled and have proper drainage for hangars.
“I wish we had it ready already,” he said. “It’s pretty important because airport funding is generated by leases for spots. Without the lots it’s hard to increase your operations at the airport.”
Land for hangars is leased for 20 years from the airport. Hangars can be sold if the sale is approved by the Airport Commission.
Eide said he would expect the commission to make a decision later this year or in 2018 on expanding space for hangars.
“It’s very important for growth and development to show there is space for someone to come in,” he said.
Chippewa Valley Regional Airport in Eau Claire also is working on adding to the hangars it has for lease. On average, only two out of the 48 airport-owned hangars were vacant during 2016, according to a report airport manager Charity Zich delivered Tuesday to the County Board.
A new 10-stall hangar is planned this year for the airport on Eau Claire’s north side, according to the county’s budget.