2017-07-27 / News

Airport Commission to choose engineering firm

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – The Biddeford Airport Commission will decide whether to renew its contract with Gale Associates or find a new engineering firm within the next few months. Gale Associates is an engineering consulting firm with offices in New Hampshire that specializes in the repair and renovation of existing buildings and infrastructure. Its contract with the city ends April 2018.

The airport commission will begin accepting proposals from firms on Friday, Aug. 11 and members will take one week to review and score each one. Commission Chairman Rick Laverriere has excused himself from the review process citing a close relationship with Gale Associates.

“It’s better if I’m not involved,” he said. “I’ve worked with them a number of years and I wouldn’t want that to distort my thoughts.”

The commission hopes to make a decision on a firm at its next meeting Thursday, Aug. 17. If two or more firms receive similar scores, commission members will follow state guidelines and conduct interviews with the remaining firms. The commission would then convene a special meeting to decide a firm or choose at the following meeting in September.

Airport Manager Kristopher Reynolds said once the commission has chosen a firm it will make a recommendation to the city council, which will have the final say.

“We want to be in front of city council by the end of August and enter into a new contract in September,” Reynolds said.

Matthew Caron, senior airport planner for Gale Associates, said his firm is finishing two projects at Biddeford Municipal Airport, tree clearing on the approach to runway six and collecting avigation easements. He said the tree clearing should only be another week as the contractor has just a few stumps left to grind. Caron said a draft of the easement survey that will be sent to property owners has been given to the city solicitor to make sure he is comfortable with the language.

“We’re expecting a legal decision by the middle of next week,” Caron said.

To receive federal funding, the Biddeford Municipal Airport must comply with Federal Aviation Administration standards. FAA guidelines require trees within a certain radius of the airport be trimmed to a certain height to give pilots a clear flight path. Because some trees that surround the airport are on private property, the city will compensate residents for the cost of the removal and loss of property value.

Caron said the commission will discuss the value of easements property owners will be granted. Caron expects to have written offers for property owners available to review by the Aug. 17 meeting.

“That assumes property owners cooperate and are amicable to our agreement barring unforeseen circumstances,” Caron said.

Caron, Reynolds and one or two commission representatives will also travel to Augusta on Aug. 17 to request funding from the Maine Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration for capital improvement projects at the airport within the next five years.

In his monthly manager’s report, Reynolds said he cleaned and finished landscaping the area around the wind sock, a felixible tube used to determine wind speed and direction. He said repairs were made to the runway, taxi lane and parking lots. The airport has also received a special events permit for its open house on Saturday, Aug. 19. The event will be a fundraiser for Angel Flight Northeast, a nonprofit that provides free flights to people in rural areas with limited financial means who need critical medical services. All money raised from a raffle will go directly to Angel Flight Northeast.

“The previous open house was a success raising funds,” Reynolds said. “This year we’re to help make it more pronounced.”

Contact Staff Writer Grant McPherson at news@inthecourier.com.

Return to top