The Wellington Municipal Airport has plans of getting bigger within the next couple of years, one of the first steps was getting a bigger jet fuel tank; which the Wellington City Council approved at their Feb. 5 meeting.
The existing fuel tank is underground, installed in the early 1970's, and has seen better days.
"As of last fall, the City hired a cleaning business to clean out the fuel tank, at that time they removed about 110 gallons of water, 30lbs. of debris – corrosion, and rust..." said City Council Member, Terry Nunemaker at the meeting. "A strong indication the tank was in very bad condition and in need of replacement." Nunemaker is also the Chairman of the Airport Advisory Board.
Once these problems were discovered, the City applied for an emergency grant with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) for the amount of 135,000 dollars.
"We were notified on Jan. 24, 2013 that KDOT had approved our jet fuel tank replacement project and will reimburse the City 75 percent of the cost, up to a maximum of 93,750 dollars," Nunemaker said.
A request for bids for the new tank, which will be double the size of the old tank, was sent out shortly after news of the grant. Double Check, of Wichita, Kan. was the low bidder at 131,168 dollars, they will also provide all the specifications, including an heightened level of fire protection for the tank. The cost to the city will be 32,792 dollars.
"The source of funding would be from the pool of money coming from agricultural oil and gas leases," Nunemaker continued. Jet fuel is one of the most valuable assets the Wellington airport provides.
"The airport makes its money in four different ways – fuel sales, rental of city owned hangers, agricultural crop leasing, and ground lease for the industrial park that's setting on the airport property," explained Airport Manager, Patrick Hamlin.
"Fuel is a major component of how we provide revenue for our operating budget," Hamlin added. "With this [new] tank we're going to double the quantity of jet fuel we have on hand, thus we will be able to take a full load instead of a half load, which will also reduce the cost per gallon...by seven to nine cents." After the contract is officially awarded to Double Check within the next few days, site preparation will begin for the new tank.
As far as when the tank will arrive, there is a 12 week waiting period for the tank to be constructed. Hamlin anticipates the new tank to be up and running by no later than the third or fourth week of May. Replacing the tank was key for the airport's runway extension project.
"Once we start handling larger aircraft, demands for specific filtering and quality control will have to be upgraded...before the extension could happen," Hamlin said. Plans for the extension are moving forward.
Page 2 of 2 - "Right now we are working on the runway safety area design," Hamlin mentioned. "We are hoping for an FFA grant sometime in the late summer to start the construction of the runway safety area." The next two steps are runway design, followed by runway construction, which should be done in the not-too-distant future.
"Best case scenario is two years from the end of this summer," Hamlin said.