David Davis Cleveland Daily Banner
Jetport Grand Opening Set
October 23, 2012
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  • By David Davis

    Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority members decided Friday to piggyback the grand opening of Cleveland Regional Jetport on a Chamber coffee on Jan. 8, 2013.

    The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce plans to hold its monthly morning membership coffee meeting at 8. The airport authority will hold its grand opening of the $42 million general aviation facility sometime later in the day.

    Much of the two-hour meeting involved discussion of two airport management structures.

    Mark Fidler will continue in his role of airport manager. He presented two options for discussion.

    In one option, he would directly supervise three part-time employees. The second option was a manager and fixed-base operator arrangement.

    The biggest dollar differential between the two arrangements is fuel sales, which is also the biggest source of revenue.

    There are pros and cons to both structures at a general aviation airport. For example, it is not profitable for an FBO to operate a flight school and maintenance shop without fuel sales to carry it through lean periods. However, flight instruction and maintenance attract long-term bu siness and it allows the airport manager more time for marketing the airport for long-term business.

    A manager with three part-time employees could probably offer cheaper fuel, which would attract more transient traffic. That type of arrangement would be more profitable in terms of fuel sales, but the same person responsible for pumping gas could also be the city’s ambassador to business executives and state officials.

    The airport authority is hopeful of a hybrid arrangement of the manager/fixed based operator structure.

    The authority originally hoped for a November opening of the new airport at 251 Dry Valley Road. The runway will be on time with the exception of needing a few extra days for dressing the runway, taxiway and apron areas. However, wet weather was one of the prime factors for pushing back completion of the terminal building.

    Finishing the terminal building by Oct. 31, was an aggressive target date from the beginning, according to Ronnie Fitzgerald, of PDC Consultants.

    The contractor is looking at a completion date of Dec. 12. But, he continued, activity around the city’s new front door has picked up and tradesmen are working like ants on drywall.

    “The metal roofing material was delivered today and I expect you’ll start seeing it go on next week,” he said.

    Authority member Lou Patten said Dec. 12 was the target date for completing the punch list and setting up the new furniture. The actual completion date is Dec. 5.

    The general aviation hangar, which is unnecessary for opening the airport, will be finished Dec. 28.

    A change in land ownership delayed completion of the sewer line north of Renfro Industries. Cleveland Utilities is negotiating with the new owners for the right of way across the property to the end of the sewer main. An agreement or alternative route is expected by the Nov. 16 airport authority meeting in the Municipal Building.

    Also, FSG Bank donated $20,000 and office equipment toward the airport terminal. That gift brings the total of donations to $215,000. Other donors include First Tennessee Bank, SkyRidge Medical Center, Olin Corporation, Pioneer Credit and Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

    J&J Construction, Chattanooga, won the $2.412 million bid to construct the 8,000-square-foot terminal building. The job was divided into three categories: site preparation, security and the terminal building. Site preparation and security are funded through grants. The terminal building, which came in at slightly less than $1.9 million, is funded by the state and the city up to $350,000 each. The airport authority is responsible for raising about $1.2 million.

    Other action taken by the airport authority included:

    – Approval of a motion requesting $958,550 for the apron area and taxiways to serve the T-hangars from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Aeronautics Division;

    – Approval of a motion requesting $572,850 for apron and taxiways to serve the new corporate area development from TDOT Aeronautics Division;

    – Approval of Change Order No. 2 in the amount of $27,417 to relocate an electrical sector switch near the parking lot;

    – Approval of Change Order No. 3 in the amount of $9,008 to extend communications conduits and install 12 90-degree large-radius elbows at the ends of the conduit runs;

    – Approval of bids for kitchen equipment, furniture and outdoor furniture, motorized blinds and signage totaling $157,160;

    – Discussion of a letter thank you letter sent to the city of Jamestown for dedicating four year of Non-Primary Entitlement Funds toward development of Cleveland Regional Jetport by building 20 T-hangars. The hangars would not be possible in the foreseeable future without the $600,000 donation. The city of Jamestown accumulated several years of funding. Instead of losing the money, it was transferred to Cleveland.