Airport advisory group wants Bolton & Menk

FAIRMONT – The vote was unanimous this time around, with a citizen board agreeing that Bolton & Menk should remain the consultant at Fairmont Municipal Airport through September 2014.

The advisory board held the vote Monday, after a previous session at which it listened to presentations by Bolton & Menk and competitor TKDA.

The decision to go with Bolton & Menk will be passed on as a recommendation to the City Council.

It’s the second time the consultant contract will come before the council. The first time around, the airport board voted 3-1 to recommend a five-year contract with St. Paul-based TKDA. Some board members later wavered and asked the council for more time to review the two choices.

“Realistically, I don’t think anyone expected Bolton & Menk to be thrown out,” said advisory board member Dennis Turner.

The initial decision to go with TKDA was partly due to the company’s impressive experience working with airports large and small, but it was also fueled by negative feelings about some recent work done by Bolton & Menk at the Fairmont airport.

At chairman Logan Kahler’s suggestion, the advisory board and city staff are compiling a punch list of items that Bolton & Menk should address before its extended contract runs out.

Included on that list will be fixing problems with the design of the airport hangars that allows water to run under the doors. In the winter, the doors have frozen shut, causing major headaches for pilots who rent space at the airport.

“Airport hangar doors sticking in the ice is not uncommon,” said board member Bruce Peters.

But the ice that builds up inside the hangar from the water runoff could easily lead to a lawsuit if someone was injured, according to Turner.

“You can’t walk into that hangar without slipping on the ice,” he said.

Despite past issues, the board agreed that Bolton & Menk deserved another chance, and members also like the idea of doing business with a local company. Bolton & Menk is based in Mankato but has an office in Fairmont.

“I’d like to keep as much money … in town as possible,” said board member Jeff Militello.

The recommendation will come before the City Council at its next meeting, at 5:30 p.m. April 22.