City Council to Consider Airport Expansion
June 15, 2015
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  • Hazleton City Council will decide next week whether to apply for a state loan that it would use to match a $300,000 grant the city secured for acquiring and renovating two hangars at Hazleton Municipal Airport.

    Council will also consider applying for a separate, $400,000 grant for upgrading and possibly expanding the terminal building at the airport.

    The airport initiatives are included on the agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting and would require matching contributions from the airport fund, which is separate from Hazleton’s general fund.

    The airport hangar loan resolution authorizes the city to use a $300,000 grant the city received from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Aviation for covering half the cost of acquiring, building and improving hangars at Hazleton Regional Airport. A Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank loan would pay the balance, according to a resolution listed on the agenda.

    The loan would have a 1.625 percent interest rate and would be disbursed in phases to pay for the hangar purchases and related work, the resolution states. City council and the state aviation bureau would approve loan disbursements and projects undertaken with the funds, the resolution reads.

    The city, in turn, would use revenue generating from hangar leases to pay the loan.

    Dominic Yannuzzi of Alfred Benesch — the city’s contracted engineering firm — said the loan can be repaid at about $1,000 per month if the term of the loan were extended to a maximum of 10 years.

    However, plans call for using money from the airport fund to retire the loan early, Yannuzzi said.

    Yannuzzi announced that the city secured the $300,000 Aviation Transportation Assistance Program grant in February. At the time, he said the money would be used for buying and renovating a pair of hangars at the airport.

    One of the hangars houses five jets, some equipment owned by the city and has space to accommodate other aircraft that visit the airport, Yannuzzi said. The other hangar exclusively houses MedEvac.
    The city has lease-purchase agreements in place for both of the hangars.

    While the grant can be used for acquiring, building and improving hangars, some work could possibly involve roof and gutter repairs and possibly utility upgrades, he said.

    The initiative is “all part of the plan to bring additional revenue to the airport,” Yannuzzi said.
    Terminal work

    Council will also consider applying for a $400,000 Multimodal Transportation Fund grant from Commonwealth Financing Authority for covering the cost of improvements at the terminal building and associated structures and grounds.

    The grant would be used for completing renovations at the terminal building, including window and interior upgrades, he said.

    The amount of money would dictate whether utilities could be upgraded or if the terminal building could be expanded, he said.

    “All of the new initiatives are being consulted with the bureau of aviation and the FAA for their concurrence as each project continues,” Yannuzzi said.
    Lease proposal

    Council will vote on a proposed lease agreement that would allow Verizon Wireless to place a cellular tower and related facilities at the airport. Verizon, in return, would pay the city $21,600 per year. Payments would increase 2.5 percent annually.

    Verizon will be responsible for obtaining permits and securing approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and state Bureau of Aviation, according to a resolution. The city has the right to place equipment on the tower for fire, police, public transit and emergency services.
    Park grant

    Council will decide whether to authorize Community Development Director Fallon Fermin to apply for a $250,000 Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program Grant from Commonwealth Financing Authority for work at Center City Park at Broad and North Laurel streets.

    According to Yannuzzi, the grant will fund landscaping, lighting, bench installation and other work for developing the park.

    Last month, council voted to use more than $264,000 in state gaming funds and federal Community Development funds to complete curbing, sidewalk, lighting, electrical, landscaping, fill, paving and related upgrades at the site.
    “It’s another grant opportunity to continue to improve the downtown City Park,” Yannuzzi said.