The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 29, 2013

Airport will replace underground fuel tanks

Randy Griffith

JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown airport leaders agreed to bite the bullet and commit to nearly a half-million dollars in local matching funds to replace 40-year-old aviation fuel tanks.

“If something goes wrong with the tanks, we’d have to pay 100 percent out of our own pocket,” authority Vice Chairman William Polacek said, explaining the decision after Monday’s special meeting.

The authority expects to award contracts for the work at the May 21 meeting, but met Monday because time was running out on a state grant to cover a lion’s share of the $1.1 million job.

Monday’s vote accepted the state funding and identified sources for the local match. The authority plans to borrow part of the local match and pay it back with funds generated from

10-cents-a-gallon fee on fuel sales approved two years ago. The $49,000 already generated by the fee also will go into the mix.

Bids were tabulated for the authority’s March meeting by the airport’s engineers at L. Robert Kimball. The apparent low bids totalled $1,065,174 for the minimum project, and $1,196,174 with some requested options.

Straw Construction of Boswell submitted the lowest base bid of $526,286.40 for site work and removal of existing underground tanks. Seneca Cos. of Des Moines, Iowa, had the lowest base bid of $538,887.36 for new tanks and installation. The project replaces aging underground tanks with a new above-ground system.

The bids came in under the engineers’ estimate base cost of $1,161,000 and saved about $200,000 from previous bids received in 2011.

But there is only $575,000 in state grant money approved for the fuel farm project, requiring a minimum match of $425,000 in local funds.

“We have to do something there, or it’s going to leak,” authority Chairman James Loncella said in March. “Then we are going to have problems there.”

Before any money is borrowed, the authority has to decide what it’s going to do about two more projects with approved grants. However, both also require a hefty match in local funds.

Hangar improvements and a new emergency response truck have grants waiting, but the local matches have not been identified.

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