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January 19, 2018

12/26/2017 7:24:00 AM
Airport commission to get fence construction numbers in January
Federal, state funding available later in 2018

Brian Jopek

For months now, the Lakeland Airport Commission has been dealing with getting things set in place to have a 10-foot tall perimeter fence built around the airport in Arbor Vitae.

Safety issues - primarily deer getting on a runway as aircraft are taking off or landing - are the primary reason for the fence.

All but five percent of its cost, estimated to be in the $1 million range, will be paid for by the federal and state governments.

The airport commission has approximately $300,000 set aside to handle its share, which means there won't be a need to go to the four towns that own the airport - Minocqua, Woodruff, Arbor Vitae and Lac du Flambeau - for additional funding to pay that share.

At the November commission meeting, Matt Yentz, a project manager with Strand Associates, the firm that will be doing much of the design work for the fence, said the recently completed airport layout plan, a requirement for the government funding, had been submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration.

At last week's meeting he returned, this time with a slide presentation showing different fence and gates styles from around the state.

Yentz also shared with the commission a preliminary design and also some recommendations, answered questions and listened to input from commission members.

He said his understanding is the federal and state funding probably wouldn't be available before September 2018, but he could get that confirmed with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aeronautics.

"Even if we were done and ready (with plans), we wouldn't bid the project until the money's available to you," Yentz said. "So it's probably a fall thing. Maybe even a winter thing. It won't take a year to design this for you but just to get all the pieces in place ... advertise it, bid it, award it, get somebody out here."

He said it wasn't unreasonable for that part of the process to take up to three months for a project like this.

"I think November would be a nice time of year to be doing the work," Yentz said.

Commission member Ginger Schwanebeck asked about the time frame to actually get the fence constructed.

"That depends," Yentz said. "I don't know if there's great local fence contractors around here and the size of their crews."

"Would they let us use a local one?" Schwanebeck asked.

"I don't think there is a local one," airport administrator Jon Schmitz said, adding there might be in Wausau and points further south.

Yentz also mentioned the need for, once the fence is built, the airport staying on top of the mowing around it, saying that should be done at least once a year.

"You're gonna want to take care of it," he said. "You're gonna plan on buying some herbicide every year, too because you're gonna want to spray the base of the fence every year or every other year."

Schmitz said someone will complain about that.

"Without a doubt," Yentz said. "But with the right herbicide, you could probably do it every other year. There's going to be some maintenance and operational cost just because you'll have this million dollar fence."

At the end of his presentation, he said he will now be able to return for the January airport commission meeting.

"That gives me some direction and I can come back to you with dollars and cents and a plan," Yentz said.

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.

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