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County Planning Board supports hangar funds grant

OBSERVER Photo by J.M. Lesinski The Chautauqua County Planning Board, pictured, discussed funding regarding the rehabilitation of a dilapidated hangar at Jamestown Airport at their August meeting.

A grant for the revitalization of a Jamestown Airport hangar was the topic of discussion at the August Chautauqua County Planning Board meeting.

Planning Board member Brad Bentley presented to the board on behalf of the project, looking for their approval to make an additional recommendation.

“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant requires a 16% local share, which equals out to roughly $172,000,” Bentley began. The grant funding goes towards “projects that focus on the reliability and sustainability of airports.” The purpose of this specific grant is to rehabilitate an aging, neglected hangar at the Jamestown Airport that would otherwise be torn down.

“Ultimately, if we do not accept this grant, we’re going to have to tear down the hangar,” Bentley noted. “And there’s a cost to tear it down. … The hangar is not used (for it’s purpose) now because its deteriorating. It is being used for storage of sheriff’s vehicles, surplus, anything you put in there has to be wrapped up in blue tarp.”

The resolution was initially tabled at the County Legislature meeting last month, essentially because it wasn’t deemed “critical” enough, according to Bentley. The resolution going forward, following the board’s approval, will go back to public facilities.

“There’s many different ways to look at this, the legislator chose to look at it from a lens of capital reserve use,” Bentley stated. “I understood that, so I worked hard to try and show what I’m trying to put back into that capital reserve number for the next couple years.”

The board was quick to point out that potential revenue can’t be counted towards the grant itself. The local share would be covered in several areas already, but as Bentley went on to say, “We have some unknowns, we don’t have a lot of visibility in the FAO at Jamestown. We don’t have their books.”

Of the county’s share, Bentley then stated, “$172,000 is the county share. $40,000 of it is work that we can, instead of paying cash, submit to the FAA saying we did that in kind

$50,000 would be revenue from the timber sales (on airport land). We could get that money up front, that’s maple, we turn that over.”

Additionally, Bentley noted, “The other one was reallocation of dollars from a grant. That was going to be used in Falconer for lighting, our payback would be over however many years, but instead we can go in for a lump sum. That leaves about $55,000 from discretionary funding somewhere else … or a sale of an asset. … Potentially, we can cover all of it.”

Bentley also mentioned the potential revenue from the revitalization of the airport hangar for intended purposes. “$1,200 a month is our potential revenue. … In the off chance that nothing comes about, we use that (hangar) to store non-airport equipment.”

One of the key points of emphasis in Bentley’s report, as well of that in the grant language itself, is that the airport work goes back to the airport. “This will go towards a revenue-producing asset, it builds upon itself,” Bentley claimed. “As long as that revenue goes back to the airport, the FAA can realistically only say yes.”

The hangar, which is big enough to house a small jet, has many possible interested parties in the immediate area according to Bentley, including “someone associated with Chautauqua Institution, the National Comedy Center, or other local businesses like Cummins.”

With the possibility of Boutique Airways coming to Jamestown Airport, the possibilities with the airline were also brought up. “What we proposed to Boutique is essentially we’re going to provide the same amount of funding, as if they weren’t there, but that being said, we can shuffle things,” Bentley commented. “They don’t have a jet, they have a prop. This hangar is best suited for a jet.”

Planning Board member Kathleen Dennison also noted the estimated annual and future values of the hangar. “Estimated annual revenue is $14,400. … The future value of the investment if we accept the grant is $495,000.”

Bentley then reiterated the purpose of the resolution regarding the county legislature. “They (the FAA) need this resolution signed by the legislature and George (Borrello) so that they know we’re committed to our piece,” he said. “This is available now. … As soon as it gets signed, we will probably be looking for design services.”

Noting costs, Bentley seemed to emphasize that the majority wouldn’t be finalized until construction began. “The biggest cost of this project is the hangar door,” he stated. “To get the door, it’s a huge door, you won’t actually get into the major part of the cost until the construction. The design, the restoration, by the time you get into the real construction, it will be 2020.”

Dennison then clarified some of the confusion around the funds being allocated for 2019 or 2020. “If the resolution is adopted by the legislature, the funding would be appropriated immediately (2019),” she commented. “If we waited to discuss it as far as the 2020 budget cycle … those capital projects, no decision would be made officially until November when the budget is adopted.”

Dennison also noted that airport projects tend to have their own rules. “The airport projects are a little different,” she said. “In general, in our funding meeting for 2020, we’re not assigning any funding for an airport project because we really don’t know if the projects have been approved by the FAA. So, they’re evaluated when they come up, and this one has come up.”

Following the discussion, the board unanimously approved their recommendation to use creative/alternative funding sources to fund the hangar project.

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