By Katie Dahlstrom
The city this week received a federal grant to fund part of a nearly $1.9 million terminal and hangar construction project for the Clinton Municipal Airport.
The $637,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation is designated for the roughly $900,000 terminal construction portion of the project.
“Ensuring our area airports have the tools necessary for Iowans to travel safely is a top priority,” U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, wrote in a statement announcing the grant. “I am pleased this funding will help purchase needed equipment, update old buildings and keep the airports operational and safe. It will also help ensure continued economic growth in Iowa around commercial and private air travel.”
Airport Manager Mike Nass said constructing a new terminal to replace the current one built in 1947 has been on his radar since he started a decade ago.
"The problems with this building are the roof, heating and cooling, electric, plumbing, the pavement around the building, it's not ADA compliant and actually parts of this building are too close to one of the runways," Nass said. "It was also designed for airline service back in the '40's and '50's; well, we don't have airline service anymore so the layout is really not the best either."
The new terminal, which will be built to the east of the current building, will be 500 square feet smaller at 3,200 square feet. It also will be equipped with a variable refrigerant flow heating and cooling system that will make the building more energy efficient.
"For businesses flying into the airport, the terminal is the first impression they get when they get here. So we're trying to make it a nice, clean, more modern facility to give the them a good impression of the city of Clinton when they land here," Nass said.
Receiving the grant is evidence of the importance of the airport to the Gateway area, Nass said.
"It shows us that the federal government sees the Clinton airport as an economic development tool for the region. Otherwise they would not spend any money on airports our size," he said. "They understand that economic development comes through airports and they understand the need to have appropriate facilities."
In conjunction with the terminal project, a new hangar will be built. The city received $150,000 from the Iowa Department of Transportation, another $54,000 from the Iowa DOT for design work and $75,000 from the Clinton County Development Association that will go toward the remaining costs to construct a 10,000-square-foot hangar that will be attached to the new terminal.
The city will bond to fund the remainder of the projects.
"We have no room for any jets or any airplanes that come in and want to put their airplane in overnight; especially in the summer when you have thunderstorms, you don't want your $10 million jet sitting outside to get hailed on. And in the winter you have sleet and snow, so we needed a building to put those airplanes in," Nass said.
The hangar already has one tenant lined up: a local company jet that has to be stored in the Quad-Cities because Clinton does not have the space. With the jets will come the hangar rent, along with other dollars that pilots and passengers could have spend in the city on things like meals and hotel rooms.
Not only will the terminal and hangar serve the businesses that are already located in Clinton, but Nass feels they could also entice more businesses to locate in the Clinton area.
"The impact on the community is that more businesses will use the airport in their corporate aircraft since we will have the space available," Nass said. "It will also attract more businesses to Clinton since there is a place to put their airplane inside."
Clinton Engineering will start construction of the new facilities in two to three weeks. The project will take approximately six months to complete, during which the airport will remain fully functional. Once the new terminal is built, Nass said the old one will likely be demolished.