HOWELL - Livingston County officials are scheduled to adopt a resolution at tonight's Board of Commissioners' meeting to rename the Livingston County Airport after a Howell pioneer who helped make the airport what it is today.
The commissioners will adopt the name Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport - honoring Hardy, 90, who still lives in Howell. Decades ago, Hardy was responsible for receiving federal grants to build the original runways at the airport, on Grand River in Howell Township. In the early 1960s, he started his own flight school and later that decade became the airport manager. He retired 21 years ago.
"It's a wonderful honor," said Hardy's wife of 65 years, Louise, 88. "The airport was nothing but a strip of runway when he went there. And now there's a lot of development. The things that he hoped would happen are happening."
The Hardy family continues to be involved in Livingston County. The couple's son, Jack, is a member of the Aeronautical Facilities Board. Their daughter-in-law, Dianne, is the Livingston County treasurer.
The airport has been undergoing improvements for the past five years. The expansion project calls for a new runway, a taxiway, hangar development and parking. The airport's existing 4,300-foot runway will serve as a taxiway once the newer 5,000-foot runway is completed. The lion's share of the $35 million project is being paid for by the federal government, which will contribute 95 percent of the money needed for the expansion. The state is contributing 2.5 percent, while the county is responsible for the remaining 2.5 percent.
Mark Johnson, airport manager, said the summer's heavy rains have slowed construction in recent days but work is progressing relatively smoothly.
"The hangar site prep and taxiway project is just wrapping up," Johnson said.
In September, crews are scheduled to being pouring the concrete for the improved runway. The runway will need concrete to cover an area 5,000 feet long, 100 feet wide and 8 inches thick for the revamped runway. The goal is to have the runway ready by November, Johnson said.
Another key improvement is an instrument-landing system, which will increase safety and allow aircraft to use precision instruments to land in poor weather conditions. Currently, the airport handles 64,000 landings and takeoffs a year. But the improvements could increase that number to about 71,800 by 2015, county officials estimate. The entire project is scheduled to be finished by 2007.