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Airport Commission: Project expands its scope

A half-hour long meeting of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission Thursday morning featured updates on some ongoing projects at the airport.

A half-hour long meeting of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission Thursday morning featured updates on some ongoing projects at the airport.

The airport has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration to relocate communications antennas, which will allow North Point Aviation to expand. In order for the business to expand, the antennas need to be moved.

Airport Director Steve Wright said the antenna relocation project has expanded to focus on general aviation redevelopment of North Point Aviation, the airport's fixed-base operator. In addition to the antennas, an aging fuel system could possibly be relocated and replaced in the North Point Aviation expansion, he said.

If airport funds need to be used to relocate the antennas, the airport should also look at using those funds, in addition to an FAA grant, to relocate and replace the fuel system, Wright said.

"Are there ways that we can help the redevelopment of this area, by maximizing the local dollars that we have going into this system?" Wright said.

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Wright has been working with FAA representatives to identify a possible project which would include constructing an arrival and departure facility for general aviation, removing the fuel tanks and leaving the antennas in their current location. The land near the current general aviation facility is impacted by the fuel tanks, because there can't be any development within 50 feet of the tanks. If the fuel tanks are moved, the new arrival and departure facility can be built where the tanks are currently.

"We'd be able to build the arrival/departure facility so it would be contiguous with this entire campus," Wright said. "Because our passengers do depend on a lot of the services through this entire building."

The fuel system features two 8,000-gallon tanks, one for aviation fuel and the other for regular fuel, installed in the 1980s. The regular fuel tank isn't used anymore, so it sits empty and would not be replaced when the tanks are moved, Wright said.

Utility project

The airport's portion of the airport utility extension project is on schedule and on budget, said Paul Strege of Mead & Hunt, the airport's consultant engineering firm. The sewer portion is virtually complete, he said, but still needs to be connected to the lines being run out to the airport.

The water portion will be completed in the next couple of weeks, Strege said. The project team is watching the schedule closely, he said, because the city of Brainerd's portion of the project needs to be completed before the airport connects to those new lines. Crews are also working to get the project done before the ground freezes.

At a city of Brainerd project management team meeting last week, the issue came up about who will be responsible for connecting the lines together, commission member Gary Scheeler said. Tom's Backhoe Service is completing the city's portion of the project, while Ryan Contracting is responsible for the airport's portion. The connection was not included in either bid awarded to the two companies, he said, and it will need to be determined who will connect the lines when both projects are done.

The water main can be connected before the end of the year, Strege said, while the sewer lines may have to be completed next year.

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