Saturday, December 17, 2016
New terminal to open soon at Dowagiac Municipal Airport
Pilots flying in and out of Dowagiac Municipal Airport soon will have a new terminal building to wait out bad weather, do additional flight planning, or get a little rest.
Final touch ups are being done on the new, single-story 1,080-square-foot terminal building. When it’s ready for public use — possibly as soon as the end of this month — the facility will replace the 50-year-old terminal building, which is in need of expensive repairs and upgrades.
Dowagiac Municipal Airport is used mainly by business travelers; people with small, private planes and jets; hobby pilots; and crop dusters.
“A really nice terminal building with technology comes in handy,” said pilot Don Symonds, of Dowagiac. “Pilots will have the ability to contact flight services to get information, especially weather briefings, in an updated facility so we can have safe flights. We rely on being able to reach those services in terminals like the one in Dowagiac.”
The modern-looking building will be outfitted with fiber-optic technology, Wi-Fi, and high-speed internet connections, according to Dowagiac Municipal’s Airport Manager Oscar Azevedo. Several people who frequently use the airport are donating computers and other tech components.
In contrast, the older, 950-square-foot building is not easily adaptable to technology and has an outdated looking front exterior.
“The airport is one of the gateways to the city. In some cases, the terminal building is one of the first parts of Dowagiac a visitor sees. The older building did not make a very good first impression,” Azevedo said.
City leaders decided in March 2015 that it would be most cost-efficient to replace the terminal building than to repair it.
The old terminal building will remain intact for a while because it houses the electrical systems for the runway lights, but it will not be accessible by the public, Azevedo said. The electrical systems were developed to withstand outdoor temperatures and weather conditions, so the city does not have to spend money heating and cooling the old building.
A federal grant the city successfully sought last year covered 95 percent of the $682,000 cost of the new building, which includes building design, construction and other related items. The city paid the remaining 5 percent.
At the airport, the city sells plane fuel, rents hangars and leases property for private hangars. Operation costs for the airport can vary from year to year. Generally, the city breaks even with the money it gets from the airport.
For each of the last two years, the city paid about $11,000 annually to operate all parts of the airport, according to Azevedo. The more efficient heating and cooling system in the new terminal building should lower costs, he added.
The next project slated for the airport is the construction of additional hangars, Azevedo said. The city has secured another grant, of federal and state money, for this project. Azevedo said the hope is to get that project off the ground sometime next year.
Posted by Kathryn on 9:40:00 AM