TRENTON, Maine — Hancock County commissioners gave their final approval Thursday to one of several projects planned for the county airport when they picked a contractor to put a new roof on the airport’s terminal building.

G.R. Roofing Co. of Bangor was selected for the $43,000 project, which represents only a small fraction of the costs of expansion and improvement projects being considered for the Route 3 facility.

A new emergency response building is expected to cost $1.2 million while a separate project to improve clearance zones at the runway’s south end could cost approximately $2 million, according to Airport Manager Bob Cossette. As part of the desired overall safety area upgrade, which is aimed at improving aircraft clearances at either end of the airport’s runway, the county is considering spending an additional $350,000 to acquire a 16-acre parcel at the runway’s northern end.

Cossette asked commissioners Thursday for their approval in pursuing a $1.2 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for the new firefighting facility. The building will house the airport’s new firefighting and emergency response department, which was created as a requirement of the airport’s recent up-grade from a Class III to a Class I facility.

Commissioners, however, expressed some discomfort with some of the itemized costs of the building project, such as a $66,700 estimate to pay for a clerk of the works position to oversee the work on behalf of the county and FAA. They made it clear they hoped to keep the costs as low as possible, even if all of it will be paid with federal funds.

“We better be able to find some economy here,” Commissioner Steve Joy said.

Still, the commissioners voted 3-0 on Thursday to apply for the $1.2 million grant.

Cossette said after the meeting that the deadline for applying for the federal grant is June 1. He said the county already has put the project out to bid and hopes to pick a contractor on May 21 so the contractor’s bid estimate can be figured into the grant application.

The county has a purchase and sale agreement for the 16-acre parcel at the runway’s north end, Cossette said. FAA is expected to contribute $333,498, or 95 percent, of the overall purchase price, with the state and the county evenly splitting the remaining $17,552.

The county does not expect to do any work at that end of the runway this year, however. Cossette said all the safety clearance improvements the county hopes to make this year would be at the runway’s southern end, where the airport’s entrance road connects the terminal with Route 3.

Among the tasks included in this project are moving the entrance road farther south away from the end of the runway, relocating a signal antenna and an associated control building used by aircraft that land and take off from the airport, and extending a concrete culvert over a nearby stream. As part of wetlands mitigation associ-ated with the project, the county also expects to replace a culvert under Route 230 with a small bridge and to pay for other wetland mitigation work in Acadia National Park, Cossette said.

The airport manager said the safety area project is a result of recently adopted FAA standards and is not connected with the airport’s upgrade from Class III to Class I. Just the wetland mitigation costs alone, he said, could represent $400,000 to $500,000 of the project’s estimated $2 million cost.

Cossette said they hope to put the safety area project out to bid on May 11 and award a contract on June 8 or 9. The FAA grant application deadline for the project is June 12, he said. As with all FAA-funded projects, the federal agency is expected to cover 95 percent of the cost with the rest being split by the state and local gov-ernment.


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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....