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5/7/2013 11:01:00 AM
Council considers more hangars at Williams airport

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

Williams City Council members hope to increase activity at the Williams airport by potentially adding hangar space in the future.

At the April 25 council meeting, members unanimously approved preparing a loan application from the Arizona Department of Transportation to build 10 T-hangars. The loan application itself will then need council approval.

Currently, H.A. Clark Memorial Field has three usable hangars-one large city-owned hangar that can hold as many as three planes depending on the size and two smaller hangars.

The airport's capital improvement program includes plans to use grant money to remove two old hangars in order to resurface and expand the general aviation apron. This would leave only the large hanger and a shade structure for planes.

"If you spend a quarter of a million dollars on an airplane you don't want to park it out in the snow and sun all year long, you want somewhere inside to park it," said City Manager Brandon Buchanan.

Stantec Consulting prepared cost estimates for two hangar options at the airport-a T-hanger that would accommodate six airplanes or one that would accommodate 10.

The total cost estimate for a six-unit hangar space is $257,040 and the total for a 10-unit hangar space is $471,240. The consultant estimates the city's monthly payment per unit would be about $265 for six units or about $292 for 10 units, if the city took out a 20-year loan at a 4.25 percent interest rate.

Buchanan said the city would probably set the hangar rental rates slightly higher than the city's monthly payment.

"We'd set those rental rates where they'd pay for themselves but at a rate where they're attractive enough to bring new tenants to the facility," he said before the meeting.

Airport Advisory Committee member Brad Olson said the demand for hangar space is high. Olson learned from the airport manager in Flagstaff that 44-foot hangars there cost $350 per month, and six people are on a waiting list for space. The airport also has 60-foot box hangars that cost $1,500 per month, which also have a waiting list.

"She informed me that that waiting list will be forever because they won't build any more of those and the people that have them will never give those up," Olson said.

Councilman Jim Wurgler said the need for hangar space has come up at several economic development committee meetings.

"This is first time in all these years that I've had any inkling that there was a viable mechanism to find financing for this," he said. "I don't like to use the word 'no-brainer' because it kind of is a negative connotation. But this is a no-brainer."

Councilman Frank McNelly asked what the city's responsibilities would be in maintaining the airport with additional hangar space, such as plowing snow.

Olson said the city already must meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements, but sometimes the maintenance levels are not ideal since few people use the airport. He said the city can notify airmen if the airport is not plowed.

Councilman Craig Fritsinger suggested the city get letters of intent to help gauge interest in hangar space.

Councilman Lee Payne said building hangars could draw more people to use the airport.

"Who knows what it will lead to in the future?" he said. "If we can take a loan and sustain it with people renting these, I think it's a really good idea."

In other council news, council members unanimously approved the third phase of an APS voltage conversion project.

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