LAPORTE | City officials will invest $1.3 million in the LaPorte Municipal Airport in a move they hope will position the city for job creation.
Some of the money will be used to build a fifth hangar to house aircraft owned by companies that do business with existing firms.
Ed Volk, president of the Airport Board, said the four existing hangars are privately owned and the new public shelter for business aircraft is especially needed in the winter to get planes out of inclement weather and for de-icing.
Some businesses take their aircraft to other communities that have those facilities.
"The end result is these people wind up going elsewhere and the city loses business opportunities," said Volk.
Fifty acres of land on two parcels also will be purchased at the southwest corner of the airport on LaPorte County Road 250 South.
The purpose is to prevent any cell towers from going up that would obstruct flight patterns during both landings and takeoffs, said Volk.
Volk said there have been many efforts in the past to locate cell towers close to the runways but the airport each time has succeeded at defeating those attempts before local zoning officials at both the county and city levels of government.
"We try to protect our approaches as much as we can," said Volk.
The airport also wants to extend water and sewer lines to the new and existing hangars now served by well and septic.
Mayor Blair Milo said she’s not sure what impact the improvements might have on economic development efforts but felt they can’t hurt.
"Any time that you can improve the airport and the offerings we have there that certainly improves our ability to attract new customers to the airport and new business to the community," said Milo.
Volk said the money will come from a bond issue to be financed over 20 years with airport proceeds derived from tax dollars.
There will be no tax increase because of previous debt taken out for other airports projects being paid off.