Funding in place for new airport building

Published 10:08 pm Monday, August 28, 2017

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday unanimously authorized the last of three funding agreements for the construction of a new airport arrival and departure building and parking lot.

The council authorized about $570,000 in state funds, with a 30 percent local match. Approval came after councilors on Aug. 14 approved more than $766,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the project. The state is expected to fund approximately $948,300, and the city is expected to pay a little less than $436,500 for the project.

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Construction on the building is expected to begin next month and be completed by the summer of 2018.

“I’m excited that we are moving forward with the project,” said Albert Lea City Engineer Steven Jahnke. “It’s a good project, and we’re looking forward to implementing it this fall instead of having to wait until next spring to do it.”

The project’s estimated cost is $2.15 million — slightly higher than the $2.08 million low bid that was rejected by the council in summer 2016 after being higher than an engineer’s estimate.

Jahnke said bids for the project remained higher this year, and the state of Minnesota picked up some of the funding gap for the project.

Rose Creek-based JD Driver LTD. was the low bidder.

Fifth Ward Councilor Robert Rasmussen said he supports the project.

“I just think it’s a really old arrival and departure building, and I think when you have other people from other businesses come to see the community, I think it’s really nice to have a nice arrival and departure building when you come into the city,” he said. 

Rasmussen said he likes the design of the planned new approximately 4,300-square-foot building, as well as state and federal funding secured for the project.

“I think it’s a good project,” he said.

In other action, the council:

  • Heard an overview of meetings and communication that have occurred since the Aug. 14 council meeting between Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams and representatives of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin, the state of Minnesota and the Save Our Hospital organization regarding the health system’s planned transition of most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and other state representatives visited Albert Lea Aug. 21 to discuss the transition, and representatives from the city, hospital system and Freeborn County will have meetings over the next several months to discuss the transition, address outstanding concerns from the community and oversee completion of an economic impact analysis.
  • Approved a grant agreement for fiscal years 2018-19 with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for airport maintenance and operations. The state plans to reimburse the city for 75 percent of eligible maintenance and operation costs not reimbursed by another source. The funding amount cannot exceed $59,345 per year.
  • Accepted a $1,000 donation from Southern Minnesota Landscaping for the Albert Lea splash pad and $25 in cash donations and memorials for Senior Center activities.
  • Accepted a $19,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for the Albert Lea Police Department’s participation in the 2018 Toward Zero Deaths grant.
  • Supported a request from the Public Works Department to apply for $10,000 in grant funding for the purchase of two trench boxes for water main breaks.
  • Approved three lot reconfigurations for Trail’s Travel Center’s planned addition to its truck service center.
  • Approved Albert Lea Public Library’s Food for Fines Program during National Hunger Week from Nov. 11 to 19. During that time, the library plans to accept nonperishable food items for donation to local food banks in exchange for a $2 coupon off library fines, per donation.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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