The City of Willard is moving forward in its grant application to do rehabilitation of the runways at the Willard Airport on Ohio 103. Council adopted a resolution authoring the city manager to submit the application to the Ohio Department of Transportation, Office of Aviation. The resolution also gives the city manager the authority to accept the grant if it is awarded.

The total of the grant is $542,800. The Ohio Department of Transportation would pay 95% or $515,660. The city would pick up the remaining 5% at $27,140.

City Manager James Pomerich said the city is not receiving good ratings due to the condition of the runways. There are major cracks in the surface, he noted.

“We have to do something,” Pomerich told members of city council.

The rehabilitation of Runway 10/28 would include milling and overlay, repairs of failed asphalt concrete pavements and restriping of the runway. According to the grant, these items would improve the safety of the runway in numerous ways, including the following:

• Foreign object debris control;

• Visualization of the runway markings, and

• Overall pavement life.

The last time a Pavement Condition Index Inspection performed by ODOT was in September 2015. At that time, the runway’s PCI was 65 and in need of corrective maintenance or rehabilitation. At this point, the pavement is estimated to be below 50 and is in “urgent” need of rehabilitation.

Pomerich said he has talked to the Huron County Commissioners concerning a long discussed regional airport. Commissioners said there is not a lot of motivation at this time to build a regional airport.

“That means we have to move forward,” he pointed out.

Pomerich said he asked the city engineer to make the grant application higher than what it would be due to the fluctuation of gas prices and what that will cost in the future. If oil prices go up, that will affect the price of asphalt.

“In a normal grant application, if you have overruns, you can get the matching grant for those overruns,” he explained. “With ODOT, it’s not.  That’s why we put it in the grant application higher that $500,000. I think it’s going to be more like $300,000.

“Right now, it’s a 95(%)/5(%) split,” Pomerich pointed out. “So, we pay 5% of that. I’m thinking if the stimulus package goes through, it will probably be 100% grant that we will get, and we won’t have to pay that 5%.”

The preliminary estimate of proposed construction values as listed in the grant application is $487,800. The preliminary estimate of engineering services is $55,000 for a estimated project value of $542,000.

If the city does not get the grant, Pomerich told city council members they will have to make some “tough decisions” on the future of the Willard Airport.

“We are at least going to have to do crack sealing on it this year,” he pointed out. “Or possibly we can hold off for another year, but we have to decide what we want to do in the future with this.”

Pomerich said the city will have to decide about keeping the airport.

“There are people on either side that don’t like it,” he added, “because they can’t do anything with their businesses because of the runway projections and the height restrictions. That’s a conversation for another day.”

Pomerich said the city cannot replace anything that “makes money,” such as gas pumps if a grant comes from ODOT.

“You can ask for it from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration),” he noted. “We are not a FAA system. That is one of the things we could look at doing.”

Applications are due by May 3. As part of the application process, a resolution from city council is required. The approval was not a unanimous one by council.

Councilman David Sattig voted against passage of the resolution for the grant application. Voting for passage were council members Michael Elmlinger, Alan Babcock, Joseph Daniel, Charles Danhoff, James Johnson and Diana Olson.

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