OLEAN — The city’s call for help with potential improvements to the Cattaraugus County-Olean Municipal Airport did not go unanswered.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the city received five responses to its Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from engineering firms that may give a hand in designing and overseeing future projects at the airport.
“The response was pretty good,” said Tom Windus, director of the Olean Department of Public Works. “I didn’t really know how many (engineering firms) were out there that did work with airports.”
Soliciting an RFQ is something the city is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to do every five years, as the city has received millions of dollars in grants from the government agency for various projects at the facility.
Currently, C&S Engineers is the consultant for work at the airport.
According to a copy of the RFQ, the city is eyeing another $3.83 million of improvements to the airport. Projects include a $950,000 renovation to the door of the airport’s main hangar, a $1.5 million rehabilitation of the airport’s runway, constructing a new T-hangar for $1.3 million and implementing an $85,000 pavement management program.
In the coming weeks, Windus said, he and airport officials will review the RFQ submissions.
“We’ll rank all of them and then bring in two or three that we feel would be good and conduct interviews with them,” Windus said.
By accepting the RFQs, the city is not moving forward on the projects. Without FAA grants or a special appropriation of city funding, there is no money currently available to begin work on any of the potential improvements.
“If these projects do get funding, we’d then have the (engineering firm) present a proposal for the work to the (Olean) Common Council, and that’s when we would name an engineer as the consultant,” Windus said.
Grants from the FAA play a critical role in completing upgrades at the airport. Most major projects during the last several years have all been entirely funded by FAA grants, with the city matching a small percentage of money to each project’s actual costs. In some cases, the city was able to provide services, like electrical work.
FAA grants paid for $2 million in repairs to the airport’s main hangar, office, runway and fencing; a $2.5 million runway expansion; $390,000 in upgrades to the airport’s fueling facility; and the installation of improved lighting, signs and an Automated Weather Observation System for $424,421.
FAA grants funded construction of a $700,000 T-hangar and the installation of the accompanying $630,000 taxiway — both projects completed in 2014.
The city will also soon begin removing trees and brush immediately surrounding the airport to improve visibility for pilots. The project is being paid for with a $270,000 FAA grant, and the city is contributing $17,000 for the work.