Reseeding project planned for Vinland Airport landing strip

A plane lands at the Vinland Airport during a Planes, Trains and Automobile event several years ago in this file photo. The grass runway at the airport will receive a 4,504 upgrade after the Kansas Department of Transportation agreed to cover three-fourths of the cost.

? With state backing for a $44,504 project to reseed the Vinland Airport runway, aviators will have a greener and much better place to take off and land in southern Douglas County.

“What we’re doing is instead of putting environmentally unfriendly asphalt down, we’re taking the green approach,” said Dave McFarlane, owner of McFarlane Aviation and the airport, which is north of Baldwin City.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has agreed to pick up 75 percent of the cost, $33,378, as part of its 2010 Kansas Airport Improvement Program. Vinland was one of 37 projects approved by KDOT totaling $3.54 million.

The airport, which features a grass landing strip, is only large enough to accommodate single-engine aircraft.

McFarlane said it’s not clear when the work will take place. Plans call for reconstruction of the runway’s base, as well as establishing Bermuda grass to land on.

“It’s a reconstruction of the base, similar to what happens with a golf course,” McFarlane said.

“It should make it to where we have a real solid base,” he said. “There are some fairly touchy time frames because of the grass we’re using.”

A great deal of research went into the Vinland plan and it wasn’t lost on KDOT officials.

“Essentially, they’re going to start over with it,” said George Laliberte, a member of the aviation staff.

When the project is started, herbicide will be used on the present grass, a seedbed will be established with sand over it, then rolling and packing will occur, he said.

Eventually, it will be seeded again.

“The thing about turf runways, unlike asphalt, you can’t just go in and do it,” Laliberte said. “It takes time.”

That means two to three years before the project is complete. McFarlane isn’t sure whether contractors can be in place for it to start this year.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen real quickly,” McFarlane said. “Maybe not this year. We’re not sure. It’s a phase-in thing.”

He also said details need to be worked out regarding keeping the airport open as much as possible during the work.

“We are a public-use airport, even though it’s privately owned and isn’t supported by taxes,” he said.

He also said the $11,126 necessary to match the KDOT funds will be there.

“We’.ll pick up our end of it,” he said.