Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
By Shelley Grieshop
Lakefield Airport nets over $100,000
  Lakefield Airport in Montezuma has been awarded a $108,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help fund ongoing improvements.
During a special meeting this morning, Mercer County commissioners approved the grant agreement between the FAA and the Lakefield Airport Authority.
The grant will pay 95 percent of the proposed plan submitted by airport officials; the remaining cost will be paid through fees collected at the airport year-round, such as fuel sales and hangar rental.
The grant money will be used for design costs for Phase 2 of the airport's expansion/improvement project. Phase 1 included the nearly $1 million runway extension project that now allows larger aircraft to land at the airport. The runway was extended from 3,800 feet to 4,600 feet. Paving and new lights also were added.
Previously the largest aircraft able to land at the airport were six-seaters such as Cessnas.
Phase 2, estimated to cost $600,000, includes the construction of a taxiway parallel to the runway, improved drainage and the removal of T-hangars (plane storage buildings) that would obstruct the proposed taxiway.
Jeff Kramer of Stantec, a Canadian-based company serving as consultants for the airport project, said the local facility already has a partial taxiway but it is too close to the runway and does not meet FAA standards.
Kramer also explained that two rows of T-hangars are too close to the proposed taxiway and must be moved. They do not give larger airplanes appropriate wingspan distance, he said.
Although not listed in the grant application, Phase 2 also involves constructing a new ramp area where planes can be parked.
Airport Manager Scott Arnold said the grant funding is instrumental in completing the needed work.
"It's a necessary step for our five-year plan," he said.
The upgrades will "expand, remodel and overall enhance" the airport's services, he added. Officials hope the improvements draw industry to the area, boost sales for businesses and generate tourism dollars.
This is the second FAA grant received by the airport this year. In February, the county commissioners approved a smaller grant for approximately $68,000 for airport upgrades.
Lakefield, which is located along state Route 219 between Coldwater and Montezuma, is the only airport in the county and comes under the ultimate authority of the commissioners.
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