Mason City Municipal Airport Renovation Vision Becomes Clearer

April 14, 2022

Apr. 13—The Mason City Municipal Airport is gearing up for expansion, and a clearer vision for the future of the airport is now forming.

The Mason City Airport Commission met on Monday to review plans for the airport expansion project, and to take a look at renderings and floor plans provided by Foth, the engineering company brought on for the project.

Adam Wilhelm, project engineer for Foth, presented the project specifications and renderings to the airport commission.

"We were aiming for a clean, modern look," Wilhelm said.

The airport terminal expansion project is currently aiming to build an entirely new airport terminal to replace the current one. The project aims modernize and expand the offerings compared to the current facility to accommodate for increased ridership at the airport, and to potentially increase the flights offered at the airport in the future.

The proposed new facility would be located directly west of the current terminal, and would be constructed while the old terminal is still operational, allowing for business at the airport to continue as usual during construction.

Mason City Airport's proposed new terminal would be a significant expansion on the current facility, featuring an expanded lobby, gate hold area, baggage area and security checkpoint.

The expanded security checkpoint, according to Wilhelm, is to allow for modernized Transportation Security Administration ( TSA) screening equipment that is too large for the current terminal.

New features to the terminal would include a mother's room, a private security screening room and potentially, a fixed walkway.

"This (the proposed airport) is simple, organized and ready to expand if needed," Wilhelm said.

At the moment, there is no space in the proposed terminal for a restaurant, but Sims the airport commission expressed interest in trying to maintain a restaurant space moving forward.

Currently, Avion Azul Mexican restaurant is located there.

According to Wilhelm, the budget for construction is $7.5 million, but that does not include costs such as equipment and furnishings, which would bring the estimated cost of the project up to approximately $11.4 million.

The estimated cost does not include the fixed walkway, which will only be added to the project if it does not make it go overbudget.

Currently, the project is planning on using the $12 million in CARES Act funding to pay for the project, but that grant comes with a deadline of project completion on May of 2024.

Sims said they are currently working on asking for an extension of the deadline, but if the extension isn't received the airport leadership will have to get creative to hit the deadline.

One way they plan on accelerating the timeline is by creating a foundation package for approval. The foundation package would allow for the foundation of the airport terminal to be built this year, starting in September if approved, before the plans for the the terminal are finalized.

The terminal would then begin construction in the spring of next year on top of the already built foundation.

Sims noted that this option is more expensive, and would require a $1 million from Mason City in bonding, but if no extension is received it would be necessary.

"This is a really smart way of doing things to keep the ball rolling" Sims said. "It makes it a little bit more expensive in the end, but it keeps the ball rolling."

Mason City Airport could also bypass the need for the extension if it receives the $13 million in funding it requested as part of the bipartisan infrastructure funding bill, which included $5 billion set aside for new terminal development. Sims said a decision on that grant application will come some time this summer.

If an extension is granted to the Mason City Municipal Airport, or if the infrastructure bill grant is approved, the airport would not go ahead with the foundation package and begin construction in the spring of 2023.

Mason City Municipal Airport currently offers daily service to and from Chicago O'Hare International Airport through SkyWest.

Zachary Dupont covers local government and business development for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at 641-421-0533 or [email protected]. Follow Zachary on Twitter at @ZachNDupont

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