City applies for airport grants

MADISON OFFICIALS will submit a grant request to the Federal Aviation Administration for funding to extend the aircraft apron at the city airport further to the southwest (above). Airport officials report that the current tie-down area for aircraft is too limited in size.

The city commissioners approved two grant applications that Madison officials will submit to the federal government requesting money for the municipal airport.

On Monday, the Madison City Commission voted in support of two applications to the Federal Aviation Administration requesting hundreds of thousands of dollars that will help pay for operating expenses and the design work needed for an apron-expansion project.

City officials have submitted a grant application for $30,000 in federal CARES Act funding that the city plans to spend on appropriate operating expenses at Madison Municipal Airport.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27, included $10 billion in funds that federal officials should distribute as economic relief to eligible U.S. airports affected by the prevention of, preparation for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Madison officials expect to receive more information about the grant in the future, but current information indicates the money is available to help fund airport operating expenses. The recipients are expected to spend the grant money within the next four years.

Airport officials cannot spend the grant money on airport-development projects or land acquisitions.

The CARES Act provides funds to increase the federal share to 100% for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and supplemental discretionary grants already planned for fiscal year 2020. Typically, the federal government provides 90% of funding, and state and local governments each provide 5% of funding costs in matching grants.

FAA officials have stated, "Providing this additional funding and eliminating the local share will allow critical safety and capacity projects to continue as planned regardless of airport sponsors' current financial circumstances."

In addition, FAA officials point out that the CARES Act provided new funds distributed by various formulas for all airports that are part of the national airport system. The system includes all commercial-service airports, all reliever airports and some public-owned general aviation airports.

The city commissioners also approved a grant application to the FAA for $96,000 to help pay for the design expenses to expand an aircraft apron at the airport.

City officials expect that the project will cost about $91,000 for design and bidding services, $2,300 for administrative services and $2,600 for closeout services. They plan to spend $86,400 in federal AIP funding and $9,600 in federal CARES Act funding to help pay for the design work.

KLJ Engineering of Bismarck, N.D., is overseeing the design project.

Coffee house outdoor seating

The city commissioners approved a right-of-way request from Sundog Coffee in downtown Madison that will allow the establishment to set up a platform in a street parking area this summer to provide additional outdoor seating.

The proprietors of Sundog Coffee requested permission to install a "bumpout" wooden platform in the angled parking area in front of the coffee house from May to October. The proprietors installed the same platform last summer. The tables and chairs are expected to provide outdoor seating for six to 12 persons.

The coffee house owners submitted the request on April 30.

Mayor Marshall Dennert noted that the proprietors had set up the platform before the city commission had taken any official action on the request. Dennert described the situation as putting "...the cart before the horse."

Jennifer Eimers, city finance officer, told the commissioners that the proprietors, including owner Contarino Honomichl, had submitted the appropriate paperwork and insurance forms. When asked, Chief Justin Meyer said the Madison Police Department had no issues regarding the outdoor seating and didn't oppose the platform.

Commissioner Mike Waldner asked if the city could provide an ongoing permit for Sundog Coffee to install the outdoor platform each summer. Commissioner Kelly Johnson also asked if Sundog Coffee owners could make such a request for an ongoing permit in the coming months.

"I think it's been a good thing," Johnson said, in reference to the outdoor seating.

George Lee, a Madison resident, spoke to the commissioners in opposition to providing an ongoing permit for the bumpout outdoor seating. Lee predicted that other Madison businesses would want the same sort of permit.

Dennert pointed out that Sundog Coffee would need to follow Madison's COVID-19 guidelines limiting the number of customers gathered outside of city businesses to 10.