The second of Tuesday’s Northwestern Regional Airport Commission meetings was held on the second floor of Cherry Capital Airport (CCA). It began with two representatives from the National Cherry Festival thanking the board for their continued support during the first public comment segment. It was noted that there is a strong relationship between the Airport Commission (NRAC) and the Cherry Festival board.
NRAC Chairman Doug DeYoung, and Grand Traverse Rep. Mike Coco were absent from the meeting. The meeting was chaired by Vice Chairman Tom Kern and Airport Director Kevin Klein. The meeting lasted just under an hour with a few key takeaways.
One of the first orders of business was the statistical data for 2018, taken by Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). According to the data, the airport saw improvements in key categories, like income and the number of passengers. It was reported that the number of passengers went up 17%, a number the board partially attributed to an increase in available seats from United Airlines. For 2019, the airport’s budget is currently operating in a deficit according to reports from the finance committee. However, as pointed out by the board, this is normal because winter months in our area usually lead to less travel.
The next item of business was the airport’s 2018 Audit. Auditors are required to express opinions on the project when finished. CCA received a “clean opinion”, which is the highest level of opinion that can be provided. Comments from the auditors included praise for the accuracy of CCA’s bookkeeping and cooperation with management.
The board also passed motions to rehabilitate airport signals and contracts for new security equipment. Progress was made on including solar panels in the recently clear-cut area adjacent Costco. Although no final decisions have been made yet, the board unanimously approved moving on to the Phase II cost analysis to include installation of said solar panels. In what is being described as a “positive opportunity” to construct the panels, the board said that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has agreed to cover $51,000 of the expenses for the initial report. According to Klein, about two-thirds of the costs of some processes would be reimbursable from the FAA, as well. Since this is not set in stone, and no construction of solar panels is ensured, I would encourage whomever supports this measure to attend the meetings and show your support during the two opportunities for public comment.
Lastly, Grand Traverse Container, a business near airport property, built an addition that will require construction of a fire lane. GT Container has asked the board to use some area of the airport to build the lane. Klein said what they’re asking for could be mutually beneficial to the parties involved. A motion to approve the proposal, as long as certain stipulations are met, had unanimous support. These stipulations will be discussed at a later date.