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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.

Past Event
Chris Cakes Pancake Feed

Past Event
Wings for Wishes

Past Event
Paper Airplane Contest

Past Event
Remote Control Airplane Demonstration

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

JackRipper 4 years, 11 months ago

And on top of all that there is a company in the large metropolitan town of Vinland that makes airplane parts and their runway is grass! Come on people, wake up and don't let the commissioners just continue to provide developers with everything they want. If we suddenly feel some burning desire to be involved in the airplane business there are many items used that don't require a runway at all and could happily exist in the east hills business park which should be made to work before venturing into more pie in the sky promises.

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JackRipper 4 years, 11 months ago

Oh and almost forgot, do those town have athletic programs that creates millionaires and high paying family jobs? Let's just keep the airport size as is and continue to provide a place for the super rich to fly in to so they can enjoy their sporting events.

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JackRipper 4 years, 11 months ago

Do those town have a dog food plant, paper plant, Hallmark cards, or water driven power plant? We can't sit around being jealous of what smaller towns in Kansas have that need jobs more than we do in Lawrence just to stay viable. Salina and Wichita also are sitting on huge retired military air bases, just like Topeka and don't need runway extensions and apparently doing ok with the sewer systems they have. If we try to lure business that require those things we are just under utilizing existing facilities to move it here which means the ol zero sum game if you are willing to look State wide instead of the Lawrence selfish way where we live in a town that has more things that most towns in Kansas and still jealous of anything smaller towns in Kansas get. And again, since Lawrence doesn't provide decent technical training we would also be luring qualified people here instead of providing jobs for people who already live here.

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Reality_Check 4 years, 11 months ago

It ain't all about Wichita. There are aerospace manuf. jobs in Independence, Salina, and Hays. These are some of the last good-paying manuf. jobs in America. If we don't want them, other towns do, belileve me.

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JackRipper 4 years, 11 months ago

And I believe the largest company that was in Lawrence that build equipment for airplanes was King Radio which was further away from the airport then east hills business park and when it was bought up moved to an area that doesn't have an airport also. Many ways to make money in the airplane world and we could, if we wanted to go a'courtin look for one of those companies to use the current business park. But the problem comes back again to the fact Lawrence doesn't encourage kids to train in electronics and machining and instead assume they all are college bound so you either have kids educated to be too good to do hands on work or not trained well enough to do hands on work. How can you encourage people to set up businesses here when everyone wants to just do the high paid jobs?

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JackRipper 4 years, 11 months ago

Well Cessna, Boeing, Learjet, etc, etc, set up shop in Wichita years ago and not Lawrence and yet Lawrence is still managing to get by. Not really a big manufacturing town. You list off all the jobs except for the people who actually make the products. This is a town that doesn't have any manufacturing training because the schools all assume the kids are college bound so people would be better off going to Wichita where they now have plenty of qualified and unemployed skilled laborers. Shoot, it would make more sense for a company to go to Topeka, they have a lot larger airport and a trade school that teaches the skills needed. Oh unless the plan is to design it out at the airport and then when ready to build they ship it to China. Really not the solution needed it seems.

Lawrence already has pretty good experience building things that don't end up getting used. Should we just keep doing it until we finally score?

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ozmo77744 4 years, 11 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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JackRipper 4 years, 11 months ago

Ah let's see, Wichita makes airplanes so therefore Lawrence should spend scare city funds to run a sewer line out there so we can tap into the Wichita airplane business? We also grow lots of wheat, should we be planting wheat out around the runways?

If the airport is suffering so much because of the sewer issue why did that country and western star stop there to relieve himself as it said in the story yesterday?

I don't know what kind of live large and on debt world you come from but can the city really afford to build business parks and not develop them fully before ladeedaing into an other venture? East Hills already exists and no matter how stupid it was it also sits right beside an other corporation leftover with many acres that need to be dealt with before spending more on business parks all over the place. I still say trade the developers the old coop plant for our new city island on farmers turnpike and this one by DAR and let them show us that good ol business skills and fix what has already been ruined before tearing up anymore land. Yeah, it is brilliant, take prairie land and build something on it so we can instantly increase the tax base. That was old America, let's see if we can do something more intelligent and use what we have first.

It's interesting that people who use to have high paying jobs in kc and now are being laid off are concerned about high paying jobs in Lawrence. We didn't have them to begin with and just because the commuting culture is crumbling away don't think Lawrence has to rush out to provide jobs for you all. What we need are real jobs that are based around the day in, day out needs of the citizens here, local agriculture for instance that isn't dependent on the whims of mega corporations. If we haven't learned those corporations pretty much sold out America and now raiding the government cupboard for anything else they can take.

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Reality_Check 4 years, 11 months ago

Nothing like getting up and reading all the negativity from the experts (hah!) to start my day! Even on complex topics like Aviation, the experts have opinions.

There is no doubt that airports are economic engines. (Aviation has been a major economic engine of our whole freakin' state for the past 80 years...hard to do that without airports!) But you have to spend money to make money. We've needed sewer service at the airport for at least the last 20 years. And we should have been using the area for industrial development for more than that. (The East Hills Biz Park should have been built at the airport.)

But whether or not we need the proposed Santularia development is still subject to study...we need a cost/benefit analysis done by an independent 3rd party. I question whether "industrial parks" are needed in a country that barely makes anything anymore. Show us some examples of businesses that will locate to the airport.

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JackRipper 4 years, 11 months ago

The competition for large corporations to pick a town is getting ridiculous. We need to worry more about establishing sustainable economies that revitalize old ways of providing what we need here and not worrying about prostituting ourselves to every large corporation out looking for action. I'd say Independence, Ks. could use jobs even more than Lawrence, Ks. if we are willing to look outside of selfishness.

"with economic development there would be millions more dollars in the tax base."

Gosh, didn't we hear all about this during the last 20 years but why is the city struggling to get by now? Easy come, easy go. Let the principles develop it with their own money. Like I said before, one developer who is also promising many jobs out on farmer's turnpike is going to do it without water or sewer services.

The only airplane technology really needed is figuring out how to get the steam engine and wood in the plane for energy.

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bliddel 4 years, 11 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.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 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.

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JackRipper 4 years, 11 months ago

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.

Oh yes, heard that one many times before. Someone has already mentioned what should be the credo today, stop socializing the expenses and privatizing the profits. We currently have an other city/county involvement business park that is under utilized and a major eye sore sitting on quite a few acres on highway 10. The city already has been involved in more then they can figure out already. What I don't understand is why do we need sewers for this business park when the one out on Farmer's Turnpike that is also going to provide lots of jobs not needing a sewer? Best thing is just get the government involvement out of anything that they have clearly demonstrated they can't figure out (just two examples, the river front mall and the east hills business park).

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oklahoma 4 years, 11 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.

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solsken66 4 years, 11 months ago

There seems to be a few who always seem to oppose development in this city. No wonder nearby cities continue to grow rapidly and bring in large companies. No job growth concept has hurt Lawrence. Construction of homes has grown too rapidly in comparison to commercial development.

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bliddel 4 years, 11 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?

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macon47 4 years, 11 months ago

JUST PASS TWO MORE SALES TAXES LIKE WE DID FOR THE MY BUS SYSTEM MAKES AS MUCH SENSE

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maxcrabb 4 years, 11 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.

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gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 11 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.

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To Sides 4 years, 11 months ago

"Ledom, a former home builder, teamed up with Jes Santaularia, a local accountant, four years ago to take on several business projects. Their company, Diversified Concepts Inc., now owns six Arby's franchises, SPM Group Inc., StorGuard Management Co., the Southern Hills Shopping Center and a residential development south of Lawrence."

Does this mean North Lawrence will get an "Arbys at the Airport"? Does the promised 1600 jobs include any that pay above minimum wage?

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Hudson Luce 4 years, 11 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.

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