The oldest hangar at the Perry Municipal Airport, built in 1950, was carefully demolished and hauled away last week, the first step toward construction of a new 100′ x 100′ hangar on the same spot.
The $815,000 contract for the new hangar was awarded in March by the Perry City Council to Fort Dodge-based Jensen Builders, and the same company later bid successfully for the job of demolishing the old 3,360-square-foot hangar. The council approved Jensen Builders’ first pay application for $225,000 at the June 28 meeting.
In June the council also approved $42,000 in upgrades to the airport’s underground wiring “necessary to address unknown electrical issues within the airfield and coming from the airport power source,” according to Matt Ferrier, principal engineer with Bolton and Menk, the city’s engineering consultants.
Ferrier said the electrical work would “cleanup underground wiring that not only impacts this (hangar) project but others in the future.” The big future project on the city’s radar is a $12 million plan to build a new, longer runway at the airport, eventually replacing the current 4,000-foot structure with a 5,500-foot runway.
Ferrier said replacement is long overdue because the original concrete runway “is deteriorating very quickly and becoming a safety issue for the facility, so we are moving as fast as we can with the FAA and getting funding as quickly as we can for it.”
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is covering 90 percent of the cost of the new runway, with the city of Perry’s 10 percent share amounting to about $1.2 million. In January the council approved the sale of $2.075 million in general obligation bonds to finance the airport improvements, both the new runway and the new hangar.
The city’s runway project has been taxiing toward takeoff for almost five years and has finally reach the stage of land acquisition. In order first to qualify for 90-10 FAA Airport Improvement Program grant funding, the city had to get its ducks in a row, so an environmental impact study was performed in 2015, and zoning changes were approved by the Dallas County Board of Supervisors in 2016.
The improvement plan calls first for converting the existing 4,000-foot runway into a parallel taxiway and then building a new runway 400 feet to the west of the current strip. The new runway will be the same length it is today — 4,000 feet — but the zoning changes approved by the county cover its eventual extension to 5,500 feet.
Melissa Underwood, senior aviation planner with Bolton and Menk, told the Dallas County Planning and Zoning Commission in 2016 that FAA approval of the project was “contingent on having correct zoning in place for us to be able to shift our runway to have our runway protection zones.”
The primary goal is safety, Underwood said, and that includes preventing any possible wind turbines or cell phone towers from cropping up in the flight path.
“Those are the bigger things you look for,” she said. “You know we live in Iowa, so you see a lot of grain bins and those kinds of things. We want to make sure those aren’t popping up in the approaches.”
After three years of property appraisals and negotiations involving landowners, the city of Perry, Bolton and Menk and ProSource Technologies, the Perry City Council approved in June the purchase of about 124 acres for $1,346,489. The price includes:
- $183,750 for 17.553 acres from the Ann L. Dayton Trust
- $112,719 for roadway plus 1.032 acres and .58 acres from Ellen L. Kading
- $655,000 for 65.628 acres from Roy David Springer, Kathryn S. Springer and Jimmy Lee Springer
- $395,020 for 39.502 acres from Julie Ann Larsen and Paul Larsen
This phase of land acquisition — all at the southeastern corner of the Perry Municipal Airport — almost doubles the size of the airport’s current 138 acres. A second, similar land acquisition phase at the northwest corner of the airport is anticipated, followed by about $1.2 million for grading and draining of the new parcel.
According to the facility plan, the new 4,000-foot runway would be built for about $2.9 million in 2020, and the old runway would be converted in 2021 to a taxiway at a cost of about $1.5 million. The long-range plan calls for the eventual lengthening of the concrete runway, first to 5,000 feet and then to 5,500 feet.
“We anticipate more commercial aviation development,” said Dr. Harlan McGuire, chair of the Perry Airport Commission. “Given our proximity to the Des Moines airport, we think we can be a good relief to the metro air traffic.”
McGuire has been on the airport commission for more than 25 years. “We have worked with several city administrations over the years,” he said, “and we are pleased with the current administration’s commitment to keeping a good, viable airport. They understand its relation to the economic development of the area.”
According to the Perry Airport Commission’s website, “Due to increases in employment and the population growth within the Des Moines metropolitan area, the Perry Municipal Airport has experienced an increase in operational activity as well as increased demand for aircraft storage space.”
The FAA’s Airport Master Record shows average use of the Perry Municipal Airport at 13 operations a day, as of the year ending Oct. 5,2016, a per-day figure that has remained steady since at least 2007.