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Airport Authority to consider projects for 2016

by Chris Olson

Posted on 6/18/2015

The Jamestown Regional Airport Authority will consider how or if it will include projects ranging from expanding the secure area of the terminal building to accelerating a wetland reduction project as it prepares a 2016 budget.

At its meeting Wednesday, the authority heard a report from Steve Aldinger, an engineer with Interstate Engineering, on the various current and future improvement projects planned for Jamestown Regional Airport.

Aldinger said he and Sam Seafeldt, airport manager, presented a request to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission on June 4 to pay for expanding the secure seating area in the terminal building for passengers waiting to get on a commercial flight. The expansion would have eliminated part of an interior wall and expanded the seating area to 60, up from 42.

"We got turned down completely," Aldinger said.

He said one member of the aeronautics commission questioned expanding the terminal building for an airport that only has two flights a day. Aldinger said the commission did offer to reconsider the request if more information can be presented on the need for the expansion.

Jim Boyd, authority chairman, said when the terminal building was built in 2010, the airport was receiving two flights a day, but the airplanes only held 19 to 34 passengers.

"Now our daily flights hold up to 50 passengers," he said.

The authority directed Seafeldt to get more information and apply to the aeronautics commission for its next round of grant funding in the fall. Aldinger had estimated the construction cost for the terminal project at $30,000. He said Seafeldt did ask a couple of regional contractors to submit quotes for the work. The lowest quote Seafeldt received was $11,700.

Aldinger said he has been talking with Federal Aviation Administration officials about a planned 25-acre wetland reduction on the northeast section of the airport's property. The estimated $1 million project would require the airport to mitigate the wetland elimination by creating 25 new wetland acres somewhere in the area.

The authority had planned to secure an agreement with a landowner next year to create the new wetland, then do the construction work in 2017.

Most of the project would be paid for by the federal and state governments, but the authority would have to pay 5 percent of the project, which is about $50,000.

Aldinger said the FAA official was wondering if the authority would be interested in doing phases two and three - paying the landowner and constructing the new wetland - of the project in 2016.

Mayor Katie Andersen, the Jamestown City Council representative on the authority, said she had concerns about whether or not the authority could afford to accelerate the timeline, or if the authority could even afford to do a second wetland mitigation.

Seafeldt said there is a current wetland mitigation project in the construction phase. It has to be completed by Aug. 17 and the project cost is $778,000. The authority has paid $38,900 toward this project.

Boyd said he thinks it's important that these wetland mitigation projects get completed. The wetland areas on the airport property attract waterfowl and other birds to the runway area. The birds present a hazard to incoming and outgoing air traffic.

The authority will consider adding these projects to its 2016 budget. The authority's financial committee will meet in the next few weeks to put together a proposed budget for the authority to consider at its July 15 meeting.

In other business, the authority heard a report from Seafeldt that 546 passenger boardings were recorded by SkyWest Airlines for May. This is up from 512 passenger boardings in April, and up from 193 passenger boardings in May 2013 when Great Lakes Airlines was the commercial passenger service provider. There were no May 2014 passenger boarding numbers to compare as there was no commercial passenger service available at that time.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@ jamestownsun.com