Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Winsted Airport entitled to $580,000 in federal funding
Oct. 11, 2010

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – If congress approves the same funding for the Winsted Airport in 2011 as it did in 2010, the airport will have $581,484 in capital improvement funds to spend next year.

This news didn’t seem to lift the spirits of the Winsted City Council Tuesday, especially since it also learned that it will need to decide what to do with the fund by mid-2011.

The airport funding was discussed during a review of the city’s proposed 2011-2016 airport capital improvement plan (CIP) presented by city engineer Marcus Watson of Bolton & Menk.

Every year, the Winsted Airport is allotted $150,000 in federal entitlement dollars for use on airport capital improvement projects like the runway, taxiways, pavement, and other improvements.

The entitlement dollars can only cover 95 percent of an airport improvement project, and the city is required to come up with the additional 5 percent in local funding.

Under the program, the airport is only allowed to bank the $150,000 share for a maximum of four-years or up to $600,000.

In 2011, assuming the funding is approved by congress, Winsted must “use, lose, or lend” a total of $131,484 in federal entitlement dollars, according to Watson, because it has reached the four-year maximum banked.

Watson presented the council with four options on ways to spend the federal funding entitlement for 2011.

The CIP was developed and discussed at a meeting with FAA and MnDOT Aeronautics in St. Cloud, which was attended by both Watson and Winsted City Administrator Andrew Elbert, including:

• completion of an airport environmental assessment, which would review the proposed paved runway development, land acquisition, and Luce Line State Trail realignment. This step is necessary to move forward with development plans in the master plan.

• installation of terminal area fencing and controlled-access gates, which would control vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

• development of a private hangar site roughly up to McLeod County Road 5, which would make room for up to 14 additional hangars.

• lending a total of $131,484 in federal entitlement dollars to another airport, with a commitment from that airport sponsor to return that amount at a determined future date.

City clerk/treasurer Deb Boelter told the council that the current airport fund was at a deficit, with one outstanding federal grant to come in after the 2009 taxiway project is signed off.

Council Member Dave Mochinski asked if the FAA would eventually take the funding away from the Winsted Airport if the city didn’t continue to use the federal dollars.

Watson told Mochinski that he had never heard of the FAA taking funding away from a community. He added that he cannot speak for the FAA, but believes it likes to see Winsted using the federal dollars to make the airport the best it can be.

The council adopted the CIP, which is only a planning document to identify projects for potential future funding.

The next step will be to have it reviewed by the airport commission, according to Watson.

City leases ice rink

The council adopted a lease agreement between the City of Winsted and Herald Journal Publishing for a city-operated outdoor ice skating rink which will be located in Herald Journal’s back parking lot during the winter months.

According to Winsted City Administrator Andrew Elbert, the park commission reviewed the lease agreement at its last meeting, recommending it for council approval.

In exchange for the use of the property, the city will reimburse Herald Journal in the form of maintenance and release it from any potential liability.

Council Member Bonnie Quast said, “I would like to thank the Herald Journal for their generous offer. . . It is an extremely generous offer for the kids in this town.”

Extension on Montgomery property

The council has given developer Clay Montgomery another year’s extension, until Sept. 1, 2011, on the preliminary plat for the 40-acre commercial/industrial development property known as Winsted West Industrial Park.

The plat provides lots for highway commercial development along McLeod County Road 1 and McLeod County Road 5, and industrial development on the balance of the property.

The preliminary plat has yet to progress to the final plat stage of the city’s development process. The zoning ordinance provides a two-year window to have a preliminary plat adopted as a final plat.

If the preliminary plat does not receive the final plat approval, it becomes null and void, and any future development of the property must begin with a new preliminary plat process.

Following the death of Clay Montgomery’s father, Sam, who co-owned the property with his son, Clay had asked for the first extension to obtain final plat approval from the city council in December 2008, and was granted a one-year extension to Sept. 1, 2009. A second request was granted to Clay Montgomery at that time, which expired in September.

Odd and ends

In other business, the council:

• approved a salary step increase of 60 cents per hour for public works lead, Jamie Stotko, which raises his previous salary of $20.06 to $20.66, effective Oct. 1.

• authorized fire chief Chad Engel to purchase three new fire hall metal doors from Russell Security at a cost of $3,227. The new doors are to replace current doors which have interior rusting.

• scheduled a Truth-in-Taxation public hearing for Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. in the city hall council chambers.

• approved a quote for $18,600 from Quality Control & Integration for a well house pump, which will be purchased from the sewer fund. The pump, located at Fairlawn Avenue and First Street North, hasn’t been working for several months and has to be manually operated. The Public Works Department believes the system may have been damaged by lightning.

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