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City seeks bids on airplane hangar

MORRIS – Now that the Federal Aviation Administration and the Minnesota Department of Transportation have approved a plan to build a new airport hangar at the Morris Municipal Airport, the Morris City Council voted to put the project out for bids.

The engineering estimate for the cost of the 95' by 100' building is approximately $845,800, which includes two alternative bid items for in-floor heating and an epoxy floor.

The project will be paid for using a combination of already-allocated money from the state and federal government, a local match and borrowing airport funding from other municipalities.

Municipal airports get an allocation of state and federal funding each year, but can only keep four years worth of funding on hand. If the funding isn't used, it is lost. However, airports can transfer excess funds to other airports each year, then request the money back when it's needed.

In the past, Morris has transferred more than $385,000 to other airports, but none of them can pay the money back at this time, City Manager Blaine Hill said.

Instead, the council passed transfer arrangements with four airports – Wheaton, Wadena, South St. Paul and Madison/Lac Qui Parle County – for a total of about $317,000.

The local share, approximately 10 percent, will be paid back through rental fees at the hangar.

Members of the city council were optimistic about the project and the benefits it will bring to Morris.

“The one nice thing about it is our airport's getting bigger – there's more planes coming in and it means a lot more people can land overnight and gas up,” said Council member Bill Storck. “It's a hub between Minneapolis and Fargo. I think it's going to be used a lot more.”

“Businesses are using it a lot, if we're housing them here instead of Alexandria I think it's a perk, a plus for us, plus a convenience for them to be able to fly in here,” said Council member Jeff Miller.