NEW KNOXVILLE – As the new terminal at Neil Armstrong Airport nears completion, the airport manager said the reasons are clear for the $1.7 million investment.
“It’s a welcoming mat that shows the county is fully invested in supporting any sort of enterprise,” Ted Bergstrom, airport manager said. “We are helping them advance into the future with a proper showing of the capabilities of the county to assist business aviation.
Though some construction delays happened due to COVID, the building is expected to be open to public access sometime in September.
But, Bergstrom and the Auglaize County Commissioners have decided to hold off a grand opening and ribbon-cutting until the spring of 2021 due to COVID concerns.
The terminal’s final appearance is coming into focus with quickly. Visitors entering the terminal’s main atrium will see a gray stone fireplace with seating for visitors. Large wood display cases flank each side. A conference room will be available, as well as a small kitchen complete with vending machines, and microwave. A pilot lounge in back will allow visitors to rest and plan their next flight.
High traffic areas will be tiled, with the entrance and meeting rooms carpeted. The ductwork is in place and framework for the drop ceiling is in. Under way is installation of IT technology.
The journey to the new airport terminal has been a 15-year effort to replace an almost 50-year-old terminal, with a little stutter stop last year.
No contractor bid on the original bid package offered in June of 2019 because the $2.2 million estimate for a 4000 square foot facility was deemed too expensive to meet the engineer’s estimates and would be difficult to build with the amount of funding provided.
After no one bid on the terminal, Garmann Miller, county employees, commissioners, and the airport board, led by Bergstrom, re-evaluated the plans and looked for ways to bring the cost down.
For example, said Bergstrom, the new building has a dimensionally straight roof, while the original design had a barrel shaped roof.
“The challenge of the barrel shaped roof would have been to take structural steel beams and put a precise bend in each of them and then replicate across three beams and then get all assembled and welded together,” Bergstrom said. “It just pushed the price too high.”
With the changes in plans, a project was successfully bid out to Baumer Construction. Construction on the new terminal began with the demolition in November 2019 of the old terminal building.
Bergstrom said an advantage of rethinking the new terminal also had them placing the building closer to the airport runways and hangars instead of next to state Route 219.
The airport management team and equipment are currently housed in the former JB tool corporate offices. The building will be available after they move into the new terminal.
Other improvements that have come to the airport is the installation of sanitary sewer service both to the terminal as well as the hangars. This replaces the septic tanks and leech fields each hangar owner install many years ago.
The airport has a 5,501-foot long by 100-foot wide grooved asphalt runway capable of handling aircraft weighing in excess of 50,000 pounds.
It has an advanced instrument approaches which provide access to Auglaize County in all weather conditions.
Numerous individuals, corporate, and industrial companies, store and maintain their aircraft in the airports roughly 92,000 square feet of hangar space. There is also space available should a company or individual wish to build their own aircraft hangar.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.