Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tensions high in hangar purchase debate: Hillsdale Municipal Airport (KJYM), Michigan

HILLSDALE — Tensions rose Monday night as the Hillsdale City Council moved to re-address a proposed purchase agreement for two hangars at the Hillsdale Municipal Airport.

The council voted to table the agreement at the Nov. 20 city council meeting after a lengthy debate over the hangar purchase proposals in favor of sending it to the finance committee for a closer look.

The finance committee met prior to the beginning of Monday night’s meeting and recommended the council approve the purchase agreements with the added stipulations that a 60 day due diligence period be allowed in addition to a 90 day closing period.

The finance committee also recommended a stipulation that the council seek a fair market value appraisal be included due to a lease for the hangar owned by J.W. Enterprises set to expire in 2018 that may effect the value.

During public comment, Penny Swan expressed continued concerns with the purchase proposals.

“I was very disappointed to see the airport hangar issue back on the agenda,” Swan said.

Swan also indicated she was opposed to Walters profiting from the sale of the hangar, appraised currently at $90,000, when Walters purchased the hangar for $72,000 in 2015.

During council discussion, Councilman Greg Stuchell repeatedly raised concerns over the proposals, which City Manager David Mackie indicated was included in the airport capital improvement plan for the past several years.

Stuchell and Mackie went back in forth in discussion for several minutes questioning the legality of modifications made to Walters hangar, which Mackie reassured were approved by the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Hillsdale County Building Inspector’s Office.

“The acquisition of these private hangars have been a part of our capital improvement plan for many years,” Mackie said. “This is a step-by-step process and this is our next step in acquiring these private hangars.”

Stuchell, who was elected to the council in the beginning of November, also questioned the need for infrastructure improvements at the airport when the city has mandated funding needs in the water treatment plant, fire department and the roads.

“Right now, we already have an airport,” Stuchell said. “We already have the infrastructure to use and we’re not using it to the full potential. I just need to hear what the justification is for expanding our infrastructure when we have infrastructure that is in need of repair right now.”

Following this lengthy discussion, Councilman Matt Bell motioned to approve the purchase proposals with the amendments recommended by the finance committee. The motion carried with Mayor Adam Stockford abstaining from the vote and Stuchell voicing the only nay vote.

Prior to this discussion, the city received a briefing on the airport’s capital improvement plan, which Mackie indicated was a necessary education process, given the discourse at the Nov. 20 meeting.

Nic Patterson, an engineer from RS&H, a private engineering firm hired by the city to consult on aviation infrastructure, was on hand to discuss the capital improvement plan and answer any questions the council may have.

Patterson explained that the city’s current airport capital improvement plan includes the purchase of the hangars and the eventual destruction of the current terminal and construction of a new terminal near the new taxi runway that was recently constructed.

He also explained that he and city staff met with MDOT just before Thanksgiving to discuss the improvement plan and MDOT was in support.

“The state was very open to our recommendations,” Patterson said. “Very, very supportive meeting with the department of aeronautics.”

Stuchell indicated the presentation included in the packet that Patterson referenced was “basically a commerical for MDOT.”

“I just need to hear what the justification is for expanding our infrastructure when we have infrastructure that is in need of our repair now,” Stuchell said. “I’m not opposed to a beautiful airport.”

Stuchell also asked if their was plans to bring in a partner to help shoulder the costs of the airport terminal, naming Hillsdale College as a big user of the airport’s resources, and Mackie indicated that it is something the city continues to pursue.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.hillsdale.net

No comments: