Thursday, August 24, 2017

Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport (KJVL), Janesville, Rock County, Wisconsin: Airport seeks $750,000 to replace 60-year-old hangars



JANESVILLE -- Ron Burdick has been asking for a replacement for 60-year-old airplane hangars at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport for five years. So far, county leaders have said no.

The latest proposal is for a $750,000 structure to replace a metal building with an asphalt floor from the 1950s.

The hangars are storage areas for small, private airplanes -- one-engine or small two-engine planes, said Airport Manager Ron Burdick.

County Administrator Josh Smith said he has not recommended a new hangar in the two budgets since he became county administrator, but it's too early to say what he might decide for the 2018 budget.

The problem is cost. Given the lease rates for plane storage, the payback on a construction loan could be upwards of 50 years, Smith said.

Burdick said any calculation of costs should include revenue from plane storage over the decades.

“How many times have they paid for themselves?” he said.

Burdick reached out to businesses that might be interested in taking over the hangar business, as has happened elsewhere, but so far: “nothing like a high degree of interest,” Smith said.

“I think it would be great if we had somebody from the private sector to do that, but we haven't found it, yet,” Smith said.

The hangars are called T-hangars because of the airplane-shaped spaces where eight to 10 planes are stored, Burdick said.

Burdick's plan is for a new hangar to be built to the southwest of two hangars that were built in 1980. The airport has two other hangars, built in the 1950s, and one of those would be torn down once the new hangar, with the same number of storage units, is ready.

The new hangar would have a concrete floor, heat and rest rooms. The old ones are metal sheds with asphalt floors that are crumbling, with no heat and no rest rooms, Burdick said.

Keeping the hangar temperature at 45 degrees would remove the need to preheat engines before use, Burdick said.

The old buildings are “just a metal box,” and the metal is rusting, Burdick said.

A new hangar would feature larger storage spaces because planes' wingspans have grown over the years, Burdick said.

The four 10-unit T-hangars bring in $109,800 a year when all spaces are leased, Burdick said

Current rental rates for 20 smaller units is $216 per month. Ten medium-sized units go for $230 per month, and 10 large units cost $253 per month.

Those are rates dictated by the market based on square footage, Burdick said.

The monthly rate in the proposed larger hanger would be about $307, or $3,693 a year, Burdick said.

Getting the private sector to build hangars for small planes is difficult, in part, because businesses would have a hard time recouping their investment, and they would be competing with the county's older, smaller, lower-priced units, Burdick said.

The county has discussed selling its hangars, but the income from leasing the land is considerably lower than the income from the hangar leases, Burdick said.

On the other hand, selling the hangars would reduce county maintenance costs, Burdick said.

The airport is “viewed largely as an asst by the local business community,” Smith said.

Smith noted SC Aviation, which provides private jet charters, expanded with a $37 million investment in 2015.

“It's a positive asset to the community, and with the economy improving, I think business out there improves as well,” Smith said.

At the same time, the airport has maintenance needs, including an expensive reconstruction of the runways, which probably will be needed “within the next several years,” Smith said.

If the county doesn't go for Burdick's plan when the budget is considered this fall, “then we'll get to put it on another year,” Burdick said.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.gazettextra.com

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