Thursday, August 08, 2013

Allegan starts project to add airport hangars: Padgham Field (35D), Michigan

An overhead view highlights (in magenta) the location of the new hangars. The top edge of the photo faces north. 
(Background courtesy Google Maps) 

Work is underway at Allegan’s Padgham Airfield to construct a new 10-unit hangar.

The nearly $477,000 project was funded primarily through federal aviation grants matched by 5 percent state funding and 5 percent city funding.

The project will put the new hangars next to the set of similar hangars built at the airport 10 years ago.

Bauer Construction Group LLP of Hudsonville won the hangar and pavement apron project with its low bid of $451,478.75

Engineering costs through the city’s engineering firm, Prein & Newhof of Grand Rapids, total $25,500.

The public can lease the hangars for $240 monthly for newer hangars, $135 monthly for older ones. The lease revenue is used to pay off the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development low-interest loan used to construct the hangars.

The hangars now under construction will house, according to airport manager Aaron Haskin, a majority of single-prop airplane designs; two of the 10 will fit larger, multi-engine planes.

When the project was discussed at a special meeting in April, council member Rick Day asked if there was demand for new hangars.

While city finance director Tracey Stull said there were currently four vacant hangars, Haskin said they were in the older hangars.

“People are interested in the newer ones, and those are full,” Haskin said. “I think people would come to (new ones).”

Council members also discussed in April options to fund the project. Including this year’s allocation, federal money saved up for it only totaled approximately $326,000. State and city matching money only put project funding at approximately $361,000, leaving the city well short.

Prein & Newhof engineer Jim Cook told council members that federal funding would likely provide another $150,000 in funding next year.
Above, (facing roughly west northwest) on Thursday, Aug. 1, excavation is already underway for a new 10-unit T-hangar at Allegan’s Padgham Airfield. (Photo by Ryan Lewis)

With that in mind, the city had two options—aside from abandoning the project:

1. To use other money to cover the more than $100,000 gap in funding and be reimbursed with the federal money later; or

2. To reduce the scope of the project and only build six of the 10 units in the hangar.

“The way airport funding works, as part of the national airport system, Allegan gets about $150,000 of federal money each year,” he said. “Airports submit (and update) 10-year (development) plans and you’re allowed to carry forward the money for four years.”

Cook said the $451,000 bid compared well to similar projects elsewhere in the state, as prices for steel and concrete had gone up.

Federal funding from 2014 and 2015 had originally been designated for constructing a new airport terminal.

Cook said, however, that eligibility requirements for the federal money were changing and might affect how it could be spent. He suggested changing that project to an expansion of the existing building.

Cook said, “You could put in new restrooms, a pilot lounge. That added space would give you a pretty functional terminal and you could do it for less than $300,000”—freeing up money to repay the city for the hangar project.

Haskin said the airport was otherwise in good shape, including its runways and lights.

Stull said lending money to the project was simply a cash-flow issue.

“I think we can do it,” she said. “I actually think it’s a good idea. The (hangar lease) revenue will come back to us. As long as I’m aware of it, I can plan it out.”

Cook said the federal money had regularly come in since 1982. Unfortunately, there was no guarantee for it.

“Who knows what Congress will do?” he said.

He also noted that building only part of the project would likely be affordable with current money, but expanding it later would not necessarily be inexpensive given how construction prices can change.

Council members approved the spending plan for the full, 10-unit hangar May 13. After reimbursement, the city estimates it will have contributed approximately $20,000 in matching funds.

Bauer was awarded the bid at the city council’s May 28 meeting.

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