Middletown approves using federal funds for new airport plans

The future development of the Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field took off as the city accepted federal funding for a new airport master plan and airport layout plan update.

City Council approved receiving the $386,448 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to create the new documents and approve Woolpert, Inc., the firm that will produce the new documents and provide planning, engineering and other support services.

The FAA grant will cover 90 percent of the total project cost of $429,387, and the city and the Ohio Department of Transportation will provide 5 percent of the costs or about $21,469 each.

Matt Eisenbraun, assistant economic development director, said it will take 18 months to complete the new plans. After that, the FAA will review the plans for approval.

In a staff report to council, Eisenbraun said the acceptance of the grant would allow “significant progress” on the project to take place in 2017.

Eisenbraun said council’s approval will allow digital Global Information System mapping procedures to be done during a time when plants have full foliage in place.

He said each year the FAA reviews capital projects proposed for funding. Projects are required to be part of the 10-year Capital Improvement Plan and must be on the airport’s layout plan as a future project, and meet the requirements for utilizing the allocated funding within the system, he said.

Eisenbraun said the airport has banked its annual grant allocation of $150,000 each of the past four years, the maximum allowed, and proposed the update and renewal of the airport’s plan. In addition, he said the process will assist the airport in transitioning to NextGen aviation control procedures and meet the requirements for listing the airport within the new national GIS system.

Although the project was included in the 2017 Airport Capital Improvements budget, council had to appropriate an additional $137,466 because the final scope/budget exceeded the projected $300,000 cost and because the FAA and ODOT grants are on a reimbursement basis.

The scope for the Master Plan was developed with the guidance of the FAA and represents a synthesis of items suggested/required via the input of the FAA and the five planning consultants that were reviewed as potential primary contractors, he said.

In addition to this project, Eisenbraun said last week the city was notified by ODOT that it will be receiving a $315,000 grant for new runway lights as part of its 2017 grant program.

Work is underway to upgrade the automated weather observation system and rehabbing and repaving the taxiways, aprons and ramps at the airport from other state and federal grants received in the past few months.

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