Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Livermore approves new construction at airport
By Nate Gartrell
The Contra Costa (CA) Times
The Livermore Municipal Airport control tower is photographed Nov. 20, 2013, in Livermore.
LIVERMORE -- The city has begun the process of renovating the Livermore Municipal Airport and establishing a maintenance facility to provide airplane repairs, refueling and other services for air travelers.
The City Council unanimously approved measures Monday to authorize the city to enter agreements with private companies in the area for the construction of a new administration building at the airport, along with a new gourmet restaurant with a well-known chef.
The city also entered into a 35-year contract with the Hayward-based Five Rivers Aviation company to take over 11 acres in the northwest section of the airport to establish a full-service fixed base operator facility, which local pilots and council members agreed were badly needed.
"All of us are definitely interested in the economic vitality of Livermore and the Tri-Valley area," Vice Mayor Stewart Gary said. "To do that, you need a variety of business interests, which the airport fits."
Prior to the vote, city Public Works Director Dan McIntyre and Airport Manager Leander Hauri gave a presentation to the council, in which they showed examples of the airport's lacking facilities, including a single portable toilet, which serves as the airport's only after-hours restroom. The current airport administration building was constructed in 1969 and McIntyre and Hauri said it is too small to accommodate the airport's growing needs.
For the construction of the new administration building, the city selected the Woodbridge-based Diede Construction company, which entered the lowest bid of slightly more than $4 million. The company has a good working relationship with the city, having built the current City Hall, and city officials indicated that they were optimistic about working with Diede again.
About 60 members of the public attended Monday's meeting, including a large group of supporters mostly comprised of pilots, airport tenants and airplane mechanics. Many said they like Livermore's airport, but the lack of a fixed base operator (FBO) forces them and other air travelers to go to other airports for basic services, like refueling.
"When I fly to other airports, I spend my money at FBOs, yet there's no place at Livermore that offers the services that an FBO does," said Kevin McDonald, a Pleasanton resident and airport tenant. "A lot of the maintenance I need, I wind up going to Salinas or Concord or Hayward. ... If I could spend that at Livermore, I would clearly prefer to do that."
The city also entered into a 10-year lease agreement for the airport's new restaurant, and selected Chef John Chacon, who has 25 years of cooking experience, to run the restaurant. The lease agreement includes a nine-month rent-free period in the beginning, and then rent will slowly increase to about $6,000 per month. McIntyre said that in planning the restaurant, the city took steps to ensure it would not compete with existing eateries in the area.
One Pleasanton resident, Angelina Summers, who lives near the airport, spoke against the plan. She said she and her neighbors already deal with train, plane and freeway noise, and fear more air traffic would decrease her quality of life.
Mayor John Marchand responded, saying that less-noisy jets are being put in use now, which he said will ease the noise.
"The stage two jets are being phased out -- so the really loud, window-rattling, building-shaking jets are not going to be coming into Livermore anymore," Marchand said.