Evart officials mark start of work on new airport terminal

EVART — It was a big day for the City of Evart.

The culmination of years of effort, careful planning, saving, and organization.

Soon, there will finally be a serious ‘home base’ for the Evart Municipal Airport.

Representatives of the municipality and the Local Development Finance Authority met on site at the air industrial park late last week to join with the selected contractor in breaking ground for a project that will see a new terminal building constructed adjacent to the airport’s runways.

The building will replace the terminal ‘mini facility’ now located just off U.S. 10 — what was a poor representation the potential the airport holds for the Evart community.

City officials are excited.

“We’re thrilled,” noted City Manager Zack Szackas following the ceremonial groundbreaking. “This has been a long, ongoing process for years. Now the project is really getting under way.

“For many, this is a dream come true.

“It’s so good to see things are finally moving forward.”

Szackas noted construction of the terminal was only one of two major projects that will be taking place at the airport this year. The second involves the removal of trees allowing for an extension of usable runway space.

“When all this is done, we will have accomplished what the LDFA and the city have been working toward for the past decade,” he pointed out.

The groundbreaking marked an expansion that holds a lot of promise for the city.

“I think this will really open up our airport to more expanded use,” said Evart Mayor Eric Schmidt.

“A lot of pilots who regularly use this airport are excited. Also, I expect there will be more use of the airport by local industry, and for recreational tourism. Now we can spread the word that our airport is better able to serve the aviation needs of folks around the state and nation.

“We’re excited.”

The airport terminal is being constructed using funds largely generated through federal aviation fees levied on airport users.

“Money used in the construction of this facility comes to us from the federal government,” said Szackas. “It is raised through payment of tax on aviation fuel.

“The Federal Aviation Agency receives the money and disperses it to individual states. Michigan’s DOT aeronautics division takes the money and divides it up among the 55 qualifying airports located in this state.

“There are some matching funds invested by the city, but it’s incorrect for anyone to think that local tax money is being exclusively used to underwrite this project.

“Our match on the funding is 2.5 percent of the total cost.

“The federal government, through aviation taxes, pays 95 percent. The MDOT aviation division pays 2.5 percent. We pay 2.5 percent. If the project were to cost $500,000, about $12,500 would come from the city for this incredible asset.”

City officials have long determined that future industrial growth in the city, and throughout the area, largely depends on having an airport that can respond to ‘just in time’ delivery demands.

Expansion of airport terminal facilities and the extension of the runway’s usable length will answer the ‘just in time’ needs.

“The holdups to ‘just in time’ use will be removed this year,” said Szackas. “We will have a great airport that opens up our area to much more potential economic development.”

The airport terminal now under construction is being built as a “Green building” by the team from Johnson Diversified Services, Inc. — out of Mason, Michigan.

“This building wasn’t originally designed with “Green” construction in mind,” said JDS owner Neal Johnson “I’m really pleased the city officials involved realized we could save money — both short and long term — by using the latest techniques and processes.

“We are using the latest technologies to create a better building, and save significantly on energy costs.”

Forms used in construction prep work are developed by LOGIX — the leading Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) system in North America.

With a superior insulation value of up to R27 built into its system, LOGIX helps contractors create an airtight building ‘envelope’ for quality of thermal performance.

The original plans called for standard heating and cooling. This has been changed to geo-thermal heating.

“We’ve been able to find some savings in construction that will offset most of any increased cost of going “Green” in the heating system,” noted Johnson

“Also, the implementation of ICF technology in actual construction will ultimately be a expense savings by reducing the need for heating and cooling.”

The construction team plan on using low VOC paint and other environmentally friendly finishes as well as throughout construction.

“It’s been great to work with the city and their engineers who have been very open to changing plans and allowing us to create a much more “Green” structure,” said Johnson.

“This is going to be not only a very useful building, but an economically and environmentally responsible building as well.”