Saturday, June 04, 2016

City waits patiently for needed Stockton Municipal Airport (MO3) repairs

Kathryn's Report:

While the grass alongside the runway was cut, the grass and brush next to the parking area and away from the runway has been left to grow.

Repair work at the Stockton Municipal Airport, which includes patch and seal work could not begin soon enough for Mayor Mary Norell and Bill Seitz, a member of the city’s airport board.

The runway, taxiway and ramp areas are in immediate need of repairs. There are serious cracks in the pavement, weeds growing in the cracks, uneven pavement and rough pavement.

Seitz said the facility is on a list of patch and seal work to be completed this year by contractors hired by the Missouri Department of Transportation. As the work schedule moves forward on similar projects across the state, the contractors will come to Stockton.

The project is being funded primarily by MoDOT, 90 percent, with the city required to fund 10 percent of the cost — $21,000.

Norell said the city has been allocating $7,000 a year in its budget for the project and now has reached $21,000 which will cover the city’s 10 percent project requirement.

“This is why we need the patch and seal,” Norell said of the cracks, weeds and other problems with the pavement. “There should never be cracks for weeds and rocks to appear as this can harm aircraft.”

Seitz pointed out the cracks and the serious problems which can occur. He said uneven pavement on the taxiway and runway plus the cracks are a serious safety issue because it shakes the planes as they try to conduct a proper takeoff or a safe landing.

Seitz said airport board members and the city would prefer to do a complete improvement which would lead to a major replacement of the runway and taxiway, but it would be “10 times the cost of doing what we are going to do, the patch and seal. We can’t afford that (major pavement replacement).”

Seitz said the city has limited funds, other concerns and places where it needs to spend money so the repair project is the best option for the city.

“The airport is and will be important for the future of Stockton,” Norell said, indicating the city is looking to do whatever it can to make the airport a positive asset which can be used to help the city develop.

Seitz said work has been completed on a new fuel tank, fuel lines and a credit card payment system called swipe and go.

He explained the new tank holds 1,000 gallons of fuel, enabling the city to sell fuel which is an added attraction to the facility. Seitz said several pilots left Stockton after it stopped providing fuel. Last year. The city stopped the sale after contaminated fuel was discovered in the tank and maintenance staff could not determine the cause.

Additionally, city and state officials discovered several hundred gallons of fuel were missing and unaccounted. Cedar County Sheriff Leon Dwerlkotte was asked to investigate, and Norell said she has not heard from Dwerlkotte on the case.

“I’ve not heard anything about it; the sheriff is handling it,” she said.

The city will be giving the old, abandoned fuel tank to Caplinger Mills Volunteer Fire Department, Seitz said, after the repair work is completed.

Trees on private property north of the runway led the Federal Aviation Administration to prohibit instrument landings at Stockton Airport. Seitz said the city could try to move forward to remove the trees or install a lighting system called PAPI — a precision approach path indicator. PAPI uses red and white lights to assist pilots in their approach and landing.

The city will likely go with the lighting system, despite the expense. The safety concerns currently facing city officials and airport board members has the lighting system high on the agenda, but financial issues make the acquisition a matter for the future — perhaps two to three years, Norell said.

“I perceive there is a lot of good feeling,” Seitz said between the city and airport board members. “We are ultimately looking to develop a good working relationship.”

Seitz said the five-member airport board, new mayor and revamped board of aldermen with two new members are getting along well.

He then said he understands the pressures from across the city on a budget with limited resources.

“You can only do what you can afford to do. I’m happy with what we have. You have to be thankful for what you have and work with city officials. So yes, I’m happy with what we have,” Seitz said. “We’d like to do better, but don’t try to do something you can’t do. We’re thankful for what we have.”

Seitz talked about issues which cropped up in the past, several years ago, that drove potential business and existing plane owners away from Stockton and the county. He then expressed hope about positive changes in the future. He said Norell’s strong record of success in business will make a difference, and he said he and the board are enthusiastic about working with the new mayor.

Developing existing airport property and building new hangars is a dream for Seitz, but the cost will require a partnership or private-public arrangements involving the city and investors. He said the business and benefits including tax revenue, would be a significant boost for Stockton. The airport has seven hangars, with six fully occupied.

An ongoing matter which continues to be in front of airport board members and those who have planes based at the Stockton airport is the high grass.

Grass next to the runway and taxiway was recently cut; but back away from the runway, toward the gate and across the rest of the airport property, grass and weeds are very high, several feet.

Seitz said it is not a hazard; still, it creates a concern the airport is allowed to violate city ordinances regulating grass maintenance and height in addition to an overall negative appearance for those who use the facility.

Norell said, “the city does take care of it,” but cited recent rains which have kept city workers from regular grass cutting efforts. Seitz defended the city saying it does not have the personnel to keep the grass cut as most people would like for it to be cut and maintained.

Original article can be found here:

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