Cheyenne Regional Airport has plans to seek its bulk of money for a new terminal in the next sixth-penny cycle
By Cary Snyder
CHEYENNE - Cheyenne Regional Airport is going to reduce its sixth-penny sales tax request for a new terminal by close to $7 million.
Airport Manager David Haring said Wednesday the airport will ask for between $1.3 million and $1.5 million to cover the costs of designing a terminal and performing environmental studies on proposed building sites. Airport officials had originally planned to ask for $8.5 million, which included construction costs.
"I am going to reduce the request. It's not an 'if,'" he said.
The revised request does not mean a terminal will be built for a fraction of projected costs that could be as high as $17.5 million.
Haring explained that by relying on local instead of federal funding for the design of the new terminal, the airport will not be constrained by Federal Aviation Administration regulations to complete construction of the terminal within a two-year period. He listed 2015 as a target date to build the terminal and said the airport will return to voters in the next sixth-penny cycle to ask for money to help cover construction costs.
The FAA can contribute up to a 95 percent match on costs related to design, which Haring said could be applied later to the cost of construction. The non-revenue-generating portions of a new terminal are eligible for a federal match on construction costs, he said.
He cited the need to move slowly and not rush the process of building a terminal because, like the current facility, it could be in use for half a century. The current terminal was built in 1960.
"We're not looking at a 10-year terminal building. We're looking at a 50-year terminal building, and it has to be done right," Haring said.
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He said reducing the request makes sense because it likely will increase the chance that voters would approve the issue in May on what could be a crowded sixth-penny ballot. Proposed projects in Laramie County currently total about $150 million. The sixth penny of sales tax, which is currently being paid by county residents to support other projects, is expected to generate about $80 million over four years.
"I think it helps the sixth-penny ballot as a whole," he said of lowering the request.
Representatives of Minneapolis-based Architectural Alliance International and Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc. of Denver presented Airport Board members Wednesday with three viable proposals for the new terminal.
The most expensive option, totaling $16.4 million, is to build between the airport's two runways immediately west of the Great Lakes Aviation headquarters. Architect Eric Peterson pointed out that this site has the most room for potential future expansion, including parking and other facilities.
The other two options, with price tags of about $11.3 million each, are building next to or on the site of the existing terminal. One plan involves building to the west on the existing long-term parking lot. Another plan involves building to the southeast on land that includes a portion of the existing terminal.
All options include caveats for expanded parking options and demolition plans that can drive up the cost.
In response to comments he said he's received at community sixth-penny meetings, Haring reiterated that relocating the airport is not a realistic option. He said a new airport would require between 2,000 and 2,500 acres at an overall inclusive cost, including relocating Wyoming Air National Guard facilities, of at least $525 million.
A final decision on the makeup of the sixth-penny ballot is expected by Dec. 14. Cheyenne City Councilman Tom Segrave pointed out that deadline is necessary because absentee voting begins in mid-March.
Segrave said the sixth-penny committee is considering a category on the ballot strictly for transportation projects, which could include requests from small municipalities in the county in addition to the airport.