Archive for Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lawrence Municipal Airport sees bright, growing future

Lloyd Hetrick, president of Hetrick Air Services is pictured Tuesday in a hanger at the Lawrence Municipal Airport. Hetrick is a proponent of new businesses and development that would drive commerce through the airport.

Lloyd Hetrick, president of Hetrick Air Services is pictured Tuesday in a hanger at the Lawrence Municipal Airport. Hetrick is a proponent of new businesses and development that would drive commerce through the airport.

May 13, 2009

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Lawrence Municipal Airport sees bright, growing future

The Lawrence Municipal Airport, which is celebrating its 80th birthday, opened just two years after Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic. Enlarge video

A maintenance man pulls a Grumman Wildcat fighter plane down the runway at the Lawrence Municipal Airport in preparation for an open house in May 2002. The plane, which was recovered after 50 years on the bottom of Lake Michigan, was one of the planes on display that day.

A maintenance man pulls a Grumman Wildcat fighter plane down the runway at the Lawrence Municipal Airport in preparation for an open house in May 2002. The plane, which was recovered after 50 years on the bottom of Lake Michigan, was one of the planes on display that day.

Past Event
Lawrence Municipal Airport 80th Anniversary

A full day of events to commemorate the airport's 80th anniversary.

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Past Event
Chris Cakes Pancake Feed

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Past Event
Wings for Wishes

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Past Event
Paper Airplane Contest

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Past Event
Remote Control Airplane Demonstration

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DAR Corp. wants to build prototype aircraft at a new hangar.

Jes Santaularia wants to build a new business park nearby.

And Rick Bryant?

He simply wants to make the most of a small, landlocked and bustling airfield to help get the Lawrence economy off the ground, flying high once again.

The rest, according to his forward-thinking flight plan, is very much on the radar.

“It’s all blue sky,” said Bryant, outgoing chairman of the city’s Aviation Advisory Board. “We’re in a great position.”

As Lawrence Municipal Airport prepares to celebrate its 80th anniversary Saturday, aviation officials and supporters are busy working on plans to help the airfield survive and thrive for another 80 years and beyond.

But to stand out among the region’s other general aviation airports and land the kinds of promising businesses and lucrative visitors that make such operations grow, officials acknowledge that a basic city service will need to find its way north of U.S. Highway 24-40 and into the airport’s property.

That’s right: sewer.

“The synergy of the airport is starting to develop now,” Bryant said, acknowledging federal investments, equipment upgrades, Kansas University efforts and other developments that have elevated the airport’s abilities and stature. “Once the sewer is in place, it opens up all kinds of opportunities for the airport.

“A dedicated sewer coming out to the airport puts us in the 21st century; no more septic tanks, no more toilets backing up in the terminal building.”

Development prospects

Sewer service is central to a proposal to bring DAR Corp. to the airport. City officials are reviewing the company’s plans and discussing how investing $2 million or more into extending water and sewer utilities — especially during such tight budget times — might pay off in the future.

“We’re pleased with the level of interest that we’ve been receiving at the airport,” City Manager David Corliss said, soon after DAR Corp.’s plans were revealed. “I agree with a number of people (who believe) that our airport is an underutilized economic development tool.”

Lloyd Hetrick, the airport’s fixed-base operator, said that he would be happy to accommodate additional development at the airport. More businesses mean more business for him, as his Hetrick Air Services provides repair, maintenance, fueling and other services for pilots, their passengers and planes.

He’s been on the scene since 1983, and is looking forward to KU’s School of Engineering continuing to bolster its presence at a hangar at the other end of the field. Businesses such as DAR Corp. could add to the employment and expertise at the airport, fueling a growth of such operations so that others want to join in and share in the facilities and services available.

“There’s room for more,” Hetrick said.

But with the airport essentially landlocked — its nearly 400 acres are bounded to the west by East 1500 Road, to the south by U.S. 24-40, to the east by property owned by KU Endowment, and to the north by Mud Creek — space is at a premium.

And airport leaders are hoping to one day expand the main runway beyond its 5,700 feet.

“We have room for an additional 400 feet on the south end,” Bryant said. “That’s in our long-term plan. It’s just a matter of when we can get the money to get that done. That would get us to 6,100 feet, and that opens up everything in the business jet fleet.

“With a few more inches of concrete or asphalt (on top) to strengthen it, you could get a 727 up and down off of it. The charter flights would be an option.”

Such a project has been submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for consideration, and is envisioned for 2013-14. The city likely would be responsible for 10 percent of a final construction cost.

Surrounding areas

Projects also are under discussion for areas adjacent to the airport.

In 2007, Lawrence businessman Jes Santaularia proposed building a 900-acre business park on property west, south and east of the airport. But that plan soon was reduced to 144 acres, near the intersection of U.S. 24-40 and North Seventh Street.

In his discussions seeking support for the project, Santaularia emphasized the site’s excellent connections to transportation: the airport itself, plus the Kansas Turnpike (Interstate 70) and other federal highways. He predicted that the park would generate 1,600 jobs for the community, plus produce $54 million in taxes and other revenue for the community during its first 20 years.

But the plans have yet to take off, with the economic downturn taking hold and elected officials having heard plenty of opposition from neighbors concerned about drainage, potential flooding downstream and the expense of having to extend city services to the property.

But the discussion has prompted the city to study such issues more closely than ever, including it in the conversation for economic development, transportation connections and community conveniences.

It’s a welcome advancement for folks like Bryant, who looks forward to the airport becoming an even larger part of the Lawrence area’s enviable attractions.

But not too big.

“The first rumor to put to rest is that there will ... be any 747s out there,” Bryant said, with a laugh.

There won’t be. There’s not enough room.

Comments

Hudson Luce 6 years, 2 months ago

Let's see. Mr Hetrick wants the city taxpayers, that's you and me, to spend $2 million over what we already spend, to build a sewer line which will benefit ... his FBO. He has this delusion that he's going to compete with the KCI Intermodal Facility, about 45 minutes away, and with the Topeka Air Industrial Park located at Forbes Field, about 30 minutes away, not to mention the up and coming Intermodal Facility in Gardner (see http://www.kcsmartport.com/sec_providers/section/Providers/Logistics/Logistics.htm). I've got news: this will be another failed project, in a long list of failed projects. Maybe the Net Operating Losses will make it attractive to someone who needs a tax break. Face it, Lawrence is a college town. It's got one real industry, KU. Everything else is small change or is kept in business by taxpayer support. If Mr Hetrick wants a sewer line and thinks it's a good investment, then he should pay for himself, rather than trying to socialize his expenses and privatize his profits.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow... only one post to argue against creating new industry in Lawrence. I think that is a new non-Richard Heckler record. That giant sucking sound you hear is your tax base moving eastward towards Kansas City.

maxcrabb 6 years, 2 months ago

"Face it, Lawrence is a college town. It's got one real industry, KU. Everything else is small change or is kept in business by taxpayer support."

So, did you miss the part where KU's engineering department has a hangar on the airport?

"If Mr Hetrick wants a sewer line and thinks it's a good investment, then he should pay for himself, rather than trying to socialize his expenses and privatize his profits."

So you attribute all this to Hetrick? He welcomes the development, I'm sure. But it's our own city manager who shows eagerness to expand the airport.

From the article- “We’re pleased with the level of interest that we’ve been receiving at the airport,” City Manager David Corliss said, soon after DAR Corp.’s plans were revealed. “I agree with a number of people (who believe) that our airport is an underutilized economic development tool.”

So quit hating. Improve your reading comprehension.

bliddel 6 years, 2 months ago

streamfortyseven: Mr. Hetrick isn’t the only one who wants to invest in our airport, nor is he the only one who would benefit. You will benefit, even if you never go to the airport. You should want this.

Nobody is trying to compete with any intermodal facility. That’s not what our airport is all about. Intermodal facilities would be bad places for research and development, whereas our airport would be a good airport for R&D.

Mr. Hetrick has paid his way out there for over two decades. This sewer project will actually pay for itself over the life of the sewer.

twosides : There may not be an Arby’s at the airport, but if we do this quickly enough, the average job at DAR may pay $60,000 per year, or about five times minimum wage. Is that good enough for you?

oklahoma 6 years, 2 months ago

Thanks to Mark Fagan for covering some positive economic news during these times of high unemployment.

High paying jobs are great, but the Arbys jobs would be appreciated by many these days. I may be mistaken, but it appears that 40 hours of minimum wage pay might exceed a weekly unemployment check, and certainly is a better use of time, more fulfilling and more productive than lying on the couch, whining and watching Oprah while on the government dole.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Show us how expanding new infrastructure aka expanding our tax bills will pay for itself? What economic impact study is being referenced?

Some jobs "may pay" x amount of dollars aka pure speculation.

Lawrence cannot afford the infrastructure we have now which is why east Lawrence is neglected by city hall.

How come DAR does not pay for DAR expansion across the board? Why is it the taxpayers responsibility to subsidize this expansion? Did taxpayers agree to do this if so when?

If this expansion is such a hot item go to the bank with the numbers and allow the bank to finance the entire project. Surely they will see the all the money they can make on this project.

bliddel 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't believe this expansion would increase your tax bills over the long term. First off, with economic development there would be millions more dollars in the tax base. Second, additional fuel flowage taxes would pay for maintenance. Don't forget that those high paid employees will buy things in Lawrence!

For example, every t-hangar built there since 1994 has been paying its own way.

DAR will not pay for DAR expansion across the board at Lawrence when it can go elsewhere at no charge for new sewer. Simply stated, If you place absurd obstacles in the path of development, then the jobs will not come. Obstacles (especially no sewer) were the reason Cessna went to Independence KS and Independence got those jobs instead of Lawrence.

ozmo77744 6 years, 2 months ago

Quote: "Some jobs “may pay” x amount of dollars aka pure speculation."

Not pure speculation. Take a look at what an aerospace engineer makes, a systems engineer, a mechanical engineer, an engineering manager, a business manager, a sales manager, marketing personnel, test pilot, A&P mechanics, draftsmen, etc. etc.

Take a look at some other companies that have done what DAR is trying to do: Columbia (now bankrupt and sold to Cessna but they brought in a huge amount of money for Bend, OR and really put that town on the map as far as aviation goes) Quest (a company building utility planes in Idaho) Lancair Cirrus ICON Eclipse and on...and on.

True DAR may go bankrupt in 2 years, 5 years, or 10 years. But consider the other companies that will migrate to your airport. Companies like Tornado Alley Turbo, Vans, Warp Drive, D'Shannon, TKS (which, if I'm not mistaken used to be in Lawrence. I see now why they're no longer there).

The "build it and they will come" theme is not always true but it's for damn sure never true if it never gets built.

Go ahead and complain about your city spending your money to improve corporate services and 5 years from now DAR will be selling its 250th $600,000 airplane from some other small town that had the foresight to invest. Those 250 new aircraft owners won't be coming to Lawrence to stay for a week of familiarization training. They won't be paying the training pilots that live in your town, nor the hotel owners in your town, nor the rental car agencies, nor the restaurants etc.

Good luck Lawrence.

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