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Airport Commission: Moving on up

The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission Thursday took the first step toward relocating some critical equipment, which will allow a business to expand.

The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission Thursday took the first step toward relocating some critical equipment, which will allow a business to expand.

North Point Aviation is looking to expand and has expressed intent to construct, but has no definitive plans. In order for the business to expand, Federal Aviation Administration communications antennas will have to be moved.

Thursday, the commission approved a preliminary agreement with the FAA which will define the scope of relocating the antennas, airport Director Steve Wright said. The FAA can work with the Minnesota Department of Transportation on relocating the antennas, he said, and won't have to do all the work on its own. The agreement carries a cost of $31,138.

"That is their worst-case estimate of the services that will be involved in the scoping and the engineering," Wright said. "It does not, at this time, include construction oversight."

The FAA has indicated if it doesn't use all the funds, they will return the excess or use the excess toward the eventual construction oversight agreement, Wright said. The $31,138 will come out of the airport capital account, he said, and is not reimbursable.

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In other business, the commission received a presentation from Mead & Hunt, the airport's consultant engineering firm, on how the airport's master plan process is going. Paul Strege of Mead & Hunt said the process is at the point where planners are talking about future facility requirements.

There has been an advisory committee meeting with planners on the master plan process, Evan Barrett of Mead & Hunt said. The process started last August, he said, and is roughly halfway complete. A final plan will be submitted for FAA approval next spring. The planners are seeking feedback from the committee, the Airport Commission, airport users, airport staff and community members, he said, and is planning to have public involvement events in the near future.

"We're just at the point where we're developing some concepts for addressing those needs that we've identified for the next 20 years," Barrett said.

A big focus of the master plan is future landside development outside the terminal area, Barrett said, like the hangar and helicopter areas. Those areas have the potential for development, he said, and the master plan's goal is to identify the best way to use those areas.

Barrett presented some early concepts for changes to the airfield, terminal area, landside development areas and hangar area, as well as concepts for a permanent seaplane base. He noted the concepts will be refined further and brought back to the commission at a later date. Commission members suggested a couple of items planners should include in the plan and Barrett said they would take those things under advisement.

The commission also spent roughly 20 minutes performing a brief SWOT analysis of the airport. The acronym stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, commission member Trudi Amundson said, and is a good way to start seeing the airport in a different way. When recent interim airport Manager Bob O'Brien left, he sent the commission his thoughts on what the airport should be doing and suggestions for improving the airport, commission member Don Jacobson said. Those thoughts should be included with the topics brought up during the SWOT analysis.

Normally, a SWOT analysis is completed by prioritizing the items and coming up with a plan to eliminate threats and take advantage of opportunities, Amundson said. She said she will type up her notes and send them to Wright, who can forward them to the commission members. Then, it would be helpful to have some special meetings to develop an overall strategy, Wright said.

In other business, the commission:

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Approved a 10-year lease extension for the Brainerd Helicopter Service which will run from May of 2019 through April of 2029. Wright noted the company wants to invest in its hangar facility and needs to secure its lease extension early in order to secure funding for the investment.

Approved a preliminary budget for 2017. The commission needs to approve a preliminary budget before Aug. 1, Wright said. Airport staff reviewed the budget history and presented a preliminary budget which doesn't include an increase in the amount of annual funding the airport receives from the city of Brainerd and Crow Wing County.

Moved the date of the August Airport Commission meeting to Aug. 11 from its original date of Aug. 18. The meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. in the conference room at the airport.

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

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