County airport requests money for master plan

SHERIDAN — Sheridan County Airport staff received approval from the county commissioners Tuesday to apply for federal and state grants to help pay for a master plan study. The Federal Aviation Administration requires every airport to conduct a full master plan study every 10 years.

Airport manager John Stopka said the study will include forecasts for future aviation activity, development goals, runway evaluation, terminal building analysis, hangar development and area layouts, infrastructure needs, environmental concerns, potential wildlife hazards, roadway access and capital improvements.

The commissioners approved a grant application to the FAA requesting $373,291 and a grant application to the state aeronautics division for $14,932.

The county will be responsible for $9,955, or 2.5 percent, of the total cost of the master plan study.

The study will be conducted in a 12-18 month time span, according to Stopka.
It cannot begin until grant funds are received.

Sheridan County Airport conducted its last full master plan study in 1997 and completed a partial study in 2004, Stopka said.

The terminal building will definitely be evaluated, Stopka said, to determine the feasibility of a new terminal building.

“A new terminal building won’t be decided just because of air service, lack of or more of,” Stopka said. “We’ve got an old building. It’s been added to three times, built in the 1930s, and we’re finding more and more inadequacies.”

Benefits of the study will include an updated plan for the future of the airport, including an airport layout and capital improvement plan.

“The master plan is the vision of what we’re going to be doing in the future for the next several years,” County Commissioner Mike Nickel said.

The commissioners also gave approval to Stopka to proceed with a bond process, including the possible refinance of a current bond issue that could produce $66,000 in savings, in order to construct five to eight new aircraft hangars at Sheridan County Airport.

“Sheridan County Airport bases the largest amount of general aviation aircraft of any airport in the state,” Stopka said. “We currently have about 92 or 93 aircraft based at the airport.”
Stopka said the airport has always had full occupancy in its hangars as well as an extensive waiting list. He has received several calls over the last few months from people wanting hangar space and thinks the airport could easily fill five to eight more hangars.
In other business:

• The commissioners approved a trail easement agreement with Sheridan Heights Ranch to allow a public trail to be built for recreational use on land near Soldier Creek Road west of Sheridan.

• Child Advocacy Services of the Big Horns requested $45,000 in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant funds to support its family visitation program. County commissioners approved the grant request in full.

• Diamond Point Construction, of Buffalo, was awarded a contract to construct a storage facility for the Sheridan County Storage Facility Project. The bid was for $465,476.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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