A privately-funded project to construct two hangars at Grimes Field in Urbana came to a halt after the anticipated grant funding for the needed infrastructure around the proposed construction site was pulled off the table by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We were given word that they (FAA) are not going to issue a grant to us for this year,” Director of Administration Kerry Brugger said. “The FAA has received a request from an adjoining property owner to evaluate the potential negative impact to their property by this project.”
The property in question, located at 1428 Nutwood Place, is owned by Frederick and Ellen Krift. Known as the Nutwood Place, the property includes a farmhouse built in the early 1800s and a round brick barn built in 1858. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in December 1976.
According to information detailed in a letter Mr. Krift submitted to the FAA on Aug. 12, the Nutwood Place property was acquired by Col. William Ward, founder of the city of Urbana, via a Revolutionary War land grant. While Ward was responsible for construction of the farmhouse, the round barn was built by the property’s second owner.
As current owner of the historic property, Mr. Krift is requesting the FAA grant him “consulting party status” when it comes to new developments at Grimes Field like the proposed construction of two hangars at the city-owned airport, which borders his property to the west.
Mr. Krift states in his letter to the FAA that “consulting party status recommends itself as the best alternative at this point in time to help assure the agency’s full consideration in planning and preserve the property’s ability to convey its significance.”
The decision to seek consulting party status, Mr. Krift states, is based on information obtained from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) in regards to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of its undertakings on historic properties and afford the ACHP a reasonable opportunity to comment on such undertakings.
“Right now we are in a review process with the historical preservation portion of the evaluation of the (hangar) project,” Brugger said. “It’s one of those things that has come up before, and it probably won’t be the last time it comes up.”
With the project ruled out for 2016, the city anticipates moving forward with it in 2017.
To help ensure the funding source for the city’s portion of the project will be available once the review process is complete, the city has requested the FAA carry over the city’s unused Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant funds, typically capped at $150,00, to 2017.
If the 2016 funds are rolled over, Brugger said, the city anticipates it would be in line to receive up to $300,000 in AIP grant funds next year.
A short time before the ruling from the FAA, the Urbana City Council approved a resolution on Aug. 2 authorizing Brugger to enter into two ground lease agreements with Springfield-based Krohn Aviation LLC.
Under the terms of the two 30-year ground leases, the city agreed to lease 16,450 square feet of land at the airport to Roger Krohn at a combined yearly rent of $4,441,50 for the first five years of the contract with a 3 percent increase being applied every five years.
For his part of the deal, Krohn agreed to construct a 50-by-231 T-hangar and a 70-by-70 corporate hangar just west of Grimes Field’s current set of T-hangars. While the corporate hangar would be for Krohn Aviation, the 10-unit T-hangar would be rented to area pilots by Krohn.
According to Brugger, Krohn was scheduled to begin construction on the T-hangar this fall, but the city must first not only extend taxiway “C” west past the site of the proposed hangars, but also construct the majority of the asphalt taxilanes that will surround both hangars.
The city administration has stated all along the plan is to use FAA AIP grant money along with a local match to extend the taxiway and build the taxilanes.
“For right now, everything is on hold,” Brugger said.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.