City Keeps Its Airport Consultant - The Missourian: Local News

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City Keeps Its Airport Consultant

MoDOT: ‘Airfield Appears to Be In Good Repair’

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Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2013 8:00 am

The city opted to retain the services of its longtime airport consultant by extending the agreement with QED.

The ordinance was approved without any discussion during the St. Clair Board of Aldermen’s most recent meeting.

QED Airport and Aviation Consultants has been working with the city on closing its regional airport since 2010.

Since then, local officials have been in contact with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration on the closure request.

Several correspondences have gone back and forth between the city and MoDOT and FAA officials this year.

Permission must be granted because the city obtained federal grants for improvements to the facility located on the north side of the city.

Under the terms of the contract, QED only will be paid if the city is successful in obtaining closure. If that happens, the company will receive $150,000.

The extension is good for the 2014 calendar year.

“This letter allows for continuation of our agreement through Dec. 31, 2014, given that we agree that progress is being made toward obtaining the release of obligations from the FAA, but that estimating the date of obtaining such release cannot be reasonably made,” QED’s Ron Price wrote in his new agreement letter to the city. “The remaining terms of our agreement are unchanged.”

The board’s vote was unanimous.

In September 2010, then-City Administrator Jim Arndt shared a letter with the aldermen outlining the basics of his proposal on how Price would work with the city as it seeks the release of obligations for the local airport.

“He is confident he will be able to assist us with the closure of the airport,” Arndt said during a board of aldermen meeting at the time. “He is a proponent for the city. The administration recommends the mayor enter into this agreement.”

When Price first proposed the partnership, he sent a letter to the city.

“I believe that I may be of assistance in obtaining a complete and lawful release of all obligations for the St. Clair Regional Airport from the Federal Aviation Administration and the State of Missouri Department of Transportation and all other governmental authorities that have jurisdiction over the airport,” he wrote in September 2010. “The Federal Aviation Administration will be a formidable adverse force in this matter, especially since the airport has received grant funds in recent years. Notwithstanding these factors, I am proposing to be of assistance on a contingency basis.”

At the time, Price outlined his proposal. It included preparing a strategic plan to initiate the request to the FAA to release the local airport from its obligations. It also includes his $150,000 fee request.

Early in 2011, the city sent Price’s nearly 200-page closure document to federal and state officials, federal and state politicians and other personnel. It since has been followed by more documentation, meetings and other related items as the city continues to pursue closure.

City officials have said the local airport loses money every year. Financial records support that.

The city’s comprehensive plan calls for the airport’s closure as part of a long-term development vision.

The city has been attempting to close the 80-acre facility on the north side of town for several years so the land can be used for retail development.

Airport

During the board meeting City Administrator Rick Childers shared a letter and progress report from MoDOT about repairs to the airport.

“We will be working on the very few items which need correction and seeking advice from our consultant regarding the design faults noted,” Childers said.

The design faults center on runway approach surfaces and object-free areas near the airport.

“Overall, the appearance of the airfield is good,” MoDOT’s Airport Safety Inspector Millicent Parker wrote in a letter to the city dated Oct. 28. “Other than concerns with drainage, erosion and water ponding due to clogged inlets, the airfield appears to be in good repair.”

Parker requested the city notify MoDOT within 60 days of action it will take to mitigate “noted deficiencies.” She also said that findings from the inspection will be sent to the FAA.

The needed repairs have been noted by MoDOT after airport tenant Jim DeVries filed a complaint against the city.

/local_news

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