Government Shutdown is Tied to Loss of Contract at Olean Airport
January 30, 2014
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  • The 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government in October cost the Cattaraugus County-Olean Airport a contract that was all set for a Buffalo firm to build hangars and do other improvements.

    Now the Olean Common Council is hoping it will be allowed to award the contract to the second-lowest bidder.

    The project to build new T-shaped hangars at the facility, with taxi lanes connecting the structures to the airstrip, has been on the radar screen since 2010. The Federal Aviation Administration even pushed forward funds and guidance. By the middle of 2013, bidding for the hangar construction and taxi lanes had been complete.

    The original contract was awarded July 9, 2013, to Zoladz Construction of Buffalo, for $613,000. That job was contingent on release of funds from the FAA, but because of the government shutdown, those funds never came through, according to Council President Ann McLaughlin.

    Zoladz executives determined that they could no longer do the work at the original price from six months ago. As a result, the firm withdrew its bid, and the contract was nullified, McLaughlin said.

    “I have had Public Works Director Tom Windus get in contact with officials from New York State Department of Transportation to make sure we can do this,” she said.

    Mayor William J. Aiello said the city is asking the state DOT whether it can take the second-lowest bid.

    That bid, belonging to Lake Shore Paving, of Jamestown, came in at $623,523.

    According to McLaughlin, the increase in price is offset by the amount it would cost the city to go out and rebid the job. She estimated the cost of rebidding at more than $5,000. The other $5,000 would be offset in the local share of the project.

    The project is expected to receive $630,000 from federal sources, with an additional $70,000 in local share, McLaughlin said, and it has been budgeted into the current operating plan.

    The total project calls for the construction of a 10-plane hangar to complement the existing 10-plane hangar on-site now, as well as the 18-plane main facility. The airstrip will have no problem filling the new facility, Windus has said.

    The Cattaraugus County-Olean Airport is capable of handling 28 to 30 passenger jets, Windus said. Although the activity levels depend on the time of year and the weather, he said, the facility sees daily use.

    “I have been up there when a family of four flew in on their plane to go to Ellicottville to ski at Holiday Valley,” he said.

    “Those are the people we need to bring into the county, and that is one of the best reasons we need to have this new hangar and the facility as a whole.”

    Not only do private family aircraft fly in and out, but several local industry-owned aircraft often use the facility, Windus said.