This post originally appeared on http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/12m-springfield-hangar-project-to-begin-constructi/nr37m/.
[Editor’s Note: The new hangars will help with attracting more drone activity. Sinclair Community College and Ohio UAS Test Center have flown there recently.]
The long-planned $1.2 million hangar project at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport is expected to be completed next spring, which local leaders say will breathe new life into the facility.
City Commissioners last week approved a $1.2 million contract with Arcanum-based Arcon Builders to construct 10 new hangars at the airport at 1251 W. Blee Rd. The builder will submit plans in the next 30 days and could begin pavement construction work this fall. The hangars will likely be erected next spring.
The project will consist of six T-hangars for general aviation and four box hangars, which can be used for larger aircraft or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), said Springfield Assistant City Manager and Director of Economic Development Tom Franzen. The airport has 33 hangars at the airport, all of which are being rented, he said.
The new hangars will increase overall capacity by 30 percent, Franzen said. Some of the old hangars have gravel and dirt floors, he said.
The city received a $500,000 state grant in 2014 to help build the hangars, while the Port Authority provided another $300,000 to pay for the project. The city will spend about $400,000 on the project, which also includes improvements to roads going to back to new hangars.
The project was announced in 2012, but was later scaled back due to funding. The city asked for bids twice, but each time they came back too far above the engineer’s estimate.
“We’ve been talking about these hangars for awhile,” Franzen said. “It’s good to get them off the ground.”
The airport sees about 30,000 flights per year, including general aviation and commercial flights, Airport Manager Don Smith said.
A 2014 study from the Ohio Department of Transportation showed the airport has a significant economic impact locally — it directly and indirectly supports as many as 774 jobs and about $36 million in payroll. Statewide, airports across Ohio support about 123,500 jobs and account for about $4.2 billion in payroll.
The new hangars will allow the airport to attract more UAS activity, which has seen an uptick since the money was approved two years ago. Sinclair Community College, the Air Force Research Lab, the Army National Guard and the Ohio UAS Test Center all have been flying there in recent months.
“As the flights start to pick up, they need a home base or a hangar they can work out of,” Franzen said. “It’s a lot more accommodating to work out of a hangar than a trailer.”
Of the four box hangars, two have already been rented, Smith said. Clark State will utilize one hangar as part of their precision agriculture program, an emerging field that includes using drones to gather real-time data on crops.
“These hangars are built for business,” Smith said. “They’re long overdue. They’re going to change the airport.”
Smith has been receiving calls for months about the other two and already has a waiting list, he said. The average waiting list to rent a hangar in the Miami Valley is about three years, he said.
The new hangars will have concrete floors and HVAC, Smith said. They’ll also be the largest hangars of their kind in the Miami Valley.
“We’ve haven’t built a hangar in 50 years,” Smith said. “This is a step into the 21st century.”
The new hangars will not only lead to new tenants, but it will also help other businesses at the air field, Champion City Aviation owner Tim Epperhart said.
“I think it’s great,” said Epperhart, who is also a member of the Airport Advisory Board. “Building up airport infrastructure is going to make it better as a whole. … I commend the city for staying the course and getting it done.”