The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Excelsior Springs Standard.
Editor's note: This letter continues the response of Ed Holloway to a blog City Manager Molly McGovern wrote concerning the Excelsior Springs Airport. The first part of the letter can be read here. Holloway's second letter can be read here.
To the Editor:
The city manager's airport comments, and mine.
"The fuel system was abandoned last year due to the annual cost to keep the pumps operational and lack of fuel sales."
There's no question that the fuel system installed in February 2010 was a maintenance nightmare almost from the beginning. By my count, fuel system issues (good and bad) were reported to the city no fewer than 22 times between April 3, 2013, and June 7, 2017.
According to the Airport Board minutes of March 1, 2017, the city manager stated, "since we have owned the system we have lost $21,000 in repairs, which is $3000 a year." Up to this particular point in time Airport Board members were never told how much had been spent on repairs. A city council member who attended our board meetings said, "as a council, we did not know either." Strange that the city council and the Airport Board were kept in the dark on this issue.
In December of 2015, it was suggested by a board member that the airport in Maryville and the Regional airport in Mosby be contacted for support in choosing another system. A little over two years later on February 1, 2017, a board member made a motion calling for the use of someone other than the current fuel system vendor. The motion was seconded and approved. A month later on March 1, 2017, the board member who first suggested contacting Maryville and Mosby, managed to get a quote of $14,500 for the same fuel system used at those two airports. According to both airport managers, their fuel systems had never needed to be serviced. A city employee who attended this board meeting stated, "it would be up to the city manager to get any bids on a new system." The city manager said, "There is not $14,000 to spend ($14,000 is shown in the minutes. Actual figure, $14,500). No bids were sought.
The city manager refers to a lack of fuel sales. I'll bet that's because the fuel pump was out of service most of the time. Can't have fuel sales if you can't pump fuel. In reality, the city abandoned the fuel system long before 2018.
"The runway is less than three years old and needs $75,000 to repair a crack and seal the surface to prolong its life."
I went up and down the runway and found not one crack but several. Eventually, the cracks will need to be filled. According to an article in The Excelsior Springs Standard, Friday, April 19, 2019, Tom Creel spoke to a man who expressed a cost of $5,000 to $6,000 to repair the cracks. In the same article, the estimated $75,000 to repair a crack included striping according to the city manager, but the Public Works Director says the estimate includes seal coating, crack filling and painting to Federal Aviation Administration standards.
The runway markings do not need to be repainted. The only painting that might be needed would be touch-up work where the crack filling is done on existing painted surfaces. I doubt that will amount to much if anything at all. Seal coating will not prevent runway cracks. The coating is meant to protect the top surface of asphalt roadways, parking lots, driveways, airport runways, etc., from chemicals, weather and use. Because our runway, turn arounds and taxiway are relatively new, and if the city is serious about seal coating them, I'd suggest testing first to see if the seal coating is really necessary.
"The hangar doors strain to open and close due to the lack of attention to the mechanisms."
From August 6, 2014, through July 5, 2017, there were three reports of trouble mentioned in Airport Board minutes concerning the hangar doors; frayed cable, cable too tight and hangar door made a lot of noise. After our August 2, 2017 meeting, anything relating to hangar doors would not be shown in the minutes. Mayor Eales got rid of the Airport Board just before the meeting was adjourned.
I have no first-hand knowledge of this but there's an interesting story about the Morton building door. Several years ago the motor that operated the door failed. The airport manager at the time found a socket could be attached at the bottom of the gearbox and then by using a ratchet, or better still an impact wrench, the door could be raised and lowered. Isn't that amazing! There was actually a way to raise and lower that door without having to tear it apart. If you read the article under "Emotions fly high in local airport debate" (The Excelsior Springs Standard, February 8, 2019) you might now wonder why the hangar door had to be destroyed.
"During the last year, the Golf Course has shared the airport facilities and began to mow the property, change the light bulbs and, yes, clean the toilets." "As they will soon begin moving back to the golf clubhouse, they will continue to mow the property saving the city $13,000 annually; Parks has provided a proposal for the use of the north hangar that includes installing doors and insulating the building in lieu of spending the money to build a new building that is needed for maintenance equipment, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars."
The Golf Course has indeed vacated airport premises, almost. Quite a bit of their property, brought to the airport when they moved in, was left in the airport office, kitchen area, main hangar and a portion of airport parking when they moved out. As for the golf course saving the city $13,000 annually by mowing the property, well that just depends. Who picks up the mowing tab if the golf course operates in the red?
The north hangar (Morton building) already has two regular size doors (one on the west side, the other on the south) so why would Parks & Rec propose to install more? Of course, it's a given that someone is going to have to pay for and replace the door ruined by the city. The city manager mentions insulation. This must mean if Park & Rec actually acquire our airport hangar, heating and cooling units will be installed. As an aside, what's wrong with where the maintenance equipment is kept now? Why is a new building and/or a different location necessary?
While it looks good in print, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars could be just an exaggeration that was used for effect. Be that as it may, it would be nice to know specifically how these savings are going to be achieved, and, over what period of time. If hundreds of thousands of dollars were actually saved, I wonder if the city would turn loose of $14,500 for a new fuel system for our airport.