Plans are proceeding for a $2.5 million parking apron for the Fremont Municipal Airport.
Those plans and concern about an AWOS system were discussed when the airport’s advisory committee met on Friday morning.
Improvements planned for the airport on the west side of Fremont include a new terminal and parking apron.
Built in 1964, the current terminal needs upgrades, such as a new heating and air conditioning system.
The aircraft parking apron is worn and needs to be larger to accommodate more activity and larger planes, said Fremont City Administrator Brian Newton.
As part of planned improvements, the automated weather observing system (AWOS) must be moved to a southwesterly location on the airport grounds.
During the meeting, Dave Goedeken, director of public works for the city, said the Federal Aviation Administration gave permission for the parking apron project to be advertised for bids. The bid opening is set for July 10.
“The final estimate to do the work is just shy of $2.5 million,” Goedeken said. “The city’s share of this is 10 percent or roughly $250,000.”
Goedeken said this amount is solely for the apron area, the lighting and electrical work that goes with it.
“There are no utilities other than electrical and storm sewer,” Goedeken added.
Goedeken anticipates construction of the parking apron to take place in the spring of 2020.
“Technically, they could start this fall, but most likely they’ll want to come in in the spring. It will be contractor choice at that point,” Goedeken said.
City officials have been told that the FAA would like to see the new parking apron in place before a new terminal is constructed.
But before the parking apron is constructed, the AWOS system must be moved.
The airport advisory committee previously voted to recommend the move, because the proposed site plan would conflict with the weather observation system’s effectiveness.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation-Aeronautics Division has had representatives at the airport in regard to moving the AWOS system.
City staff will pour the new concrete pads for the system and run utilities and communications lines to the new AWOS site.
“We’ve been working with the State and the FAA on the design and the layout of the concrete pads,” Goedeken said at the meeting. “City forces are going to put in the concrete pads. The department of utilities will bring the electrical up to it.”
A contractor will be needed to put a phone line to the new location.
Goedeken said the relocated AWOS will be out of the way of a 500-foot radius for the terminal area.
“That was the problem we had before,” Goedeken said. “Planes parked on the pad could interrupt that 500-foot radius of the AWOS so we will have to move it.”
Fremonter Vic Roeder, a pilot, asked if the AWOS was going to be upgraded or simply moved.
“They’re just going to move it,” Goedeken said, adding that it would be bolted onto the new concrete pads.
Roeder shared other thoughts.
“It’s been my experiences in my traveling all over this country, that our AWOS is the weakest one,” Roeder said. “We can hardly get 30, 60 miles out and hear the thing. There’s airports that aren’t towered airports and I can hear their AWOS over 100 miles out.”
He noted something else.
“We are the only airport that we fly into that we can’t get our AWOS until we’re almost right on top of it,” Roeder said. “Omaha’s already asked us if we’ve got the weather. If it wasn’t for our iPads and being able to get it on that, we’d have to say, ‘No, I haven’t got it.’”
Advisory committee member Jennifer Weiss-Assman, suggested finding out what an upgrade would cost. Bill Dugan, an advisory committee member, asked about having the AWOS tested.
Roeder added that maybe it would help when the AWOS is moved and new wiring added.
In regard to the new terminal, Jim Kjeldgaard, the fixed base operator, asked if the building would be funded by the FAA or the city.
“Right now, we’re looking more at city funding,” Goedeken said. “We’ll ask for federal funds.”
But Goedeken said a representative from the Nebraska Department of Transportation, aeronautics division, said there isn’t that much available.
Goedeken added that a Congressional press release will announce that $900,000 has been allocated for the parking apron, but officials with the state have indicated they have the monies to make up the difference in the $2.5 million — minus the city’s 10 percent.
The public works director noted that meeting attendees might think the apron project cost is high, but added that the FAA requires certain types of materials.
“The price goes up with everything that’s required,” Goedeken said. “When there’s federal dollars involved, there’s federal requirements.”
In other business, Newton said all city boards, including the airport, library, parks, cemetery, utilities — any board where the mayor appoints individuals to serve — will have a standard way of handling business.
Meeting minutes will be completed in a common form. The meetings will be recorded. Those recordings will go on the city’s website.
“We’re trying to standardize it to make sure we’re following the same format,” Newton said.
He said meetings can’t deviate from what’s on the agenda. If airport committee members want to discuss something, they need to contact Goedeken within 24 hours of the upcoming meeting to have it put on the agenda.
“If it’s not on the agenda, you cannot talk about it,” Newton said.
Should there be a public comment period on the agenda, visitors could only make statements about something already not on the agenda and there can be no discussion from the committee.
“If you try to discuss it, you violate the Open Meetings Act, because you didn’t have it on the agenda to discuss it,” Newton said.
Every board the city has is an advisory board that simply makes recommendations.
The airport advisory committee meets at 8:15 a.m. the third Friday of each month at Fremont Municipal Airport. Meetings are open to the public.