Local airport officials hope to seal a deal to buy 67 acres of adjacent Pfizer Inc. property by the end of the summer.
And they will craft plans for the best use of the property over the next year.
Activity at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport is pushing ahead with word that the airport will receive $1.46 million for improvements, care of the U.S. Department of Transportation, via the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.
Part of the money is to be used to acquire land just south of the airport. The balance of the grant will be used for other improvements.
Airport officials were anticipating money from the Airport Improvement Program to cover about 90 percent of a land purchase expected to cost $1.29 million in total. About 5 percent of the cost ($64,500), is to come from the state of Michigan and another 5 percent is to come from revenues generated by the airport.
“This will allow us to purchase the land,” Airport Director David Reid said. “We will get some state funding as well with that and we have a portion that we will kick in as well. It all fits in together to make that purchase work.”
About a year and a half ago, the Kalamazoo County Aeronautics Board of Trustees starting talking about trying to buy the former farm land just south of the airport, Reid said. That started after pharmaceutical maker Pfizer made it known it wanted to sell the land. The idea was later approved by the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners.
“We’re still developing the plan for what we’re going to use the land for,” Reid said.
He said the property is not needed to extend the airport’s runways. The primary thinking is to develop it for general aviation uses. That is additional airplane hangars and services that cater to the many individual and corporate aircraft owners in the Greater Kalamazoo area.
Another possible use is for light manufacturing related to aviation. He said when the airport is able to close on the sale of the land, the property will be fenced off and prepped for redevelopment.
“We hope to close on the land deal itself by the end of summer,” Reid said. “Long-term plans over the next year with the Aeronautics Board will be to finalize those (redevelopment) plans.”
Other projects to be done with the grant money, Reid said, include:
-Maintaining the airport’s main runway and six taxiways. Among other things, cracks will be sealed and pavement markings will be repainted and improved.
-Design work to rehabilitate one of the taxiways. The money to cover design work is being provided by the grant that was just announced and funding is being sought to cover the cost of doing the construction work next year.
-Doing pavement rehabilitation in the airport’s general aviation area. Some of the area adjacent to the 100 aircraft hangars at the airport is to be repaved.
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