Federal aid will save city $130K on airport project


The terminal building at the Oneonta Municipal Airport is shown in this June 2017 file photo.

The city of Oneonta will save about $130,000 in construction costs for a project at Albert S. Nader Regional Airport, thanks to the CARES Act.

The contract was part of a consent agenda during the Common Council's meeting Tuesday, May 19, which was held via Zoom and broadcast on YouTube.

The city unanimously approved a low bid of about $1.3 million from Boland's Excavating and Topsoil of Conklin to reconstruct a holding apron at the airport. An airport apron is a runway-adjacent area where aircraft get into position and await takeoff. 

The project was designed by McFarland Johnson, a construction engineering company that specializes in airport and other projects. Most of funding for the apron reconstruction is coming from a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Project.

However, with $10 billion in the CARES Act for economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic earmarked for airports, Oneonta was able to get the money to cover its grant match. 

Council Member Len Carson Jr., R-Fifth Ward, who is on the Airport Commission, credited Commission Chair Ed May with saving the city's taxpayers $130,000. 

"He is a strong advocate for us with our airport," Carson said. 

The city will also get some CARES money for the Oneonta Public Transit program, based on funding in the bill for rural transportation, according to Personnel Director Katie Bottger. 

Bottger, who is a co-chair of the city's COVID work group, said almost all city workers would be reporting back to work by Monday, June 1. 

However, Mayor Gary Herzig said the Common Council will continue to meet remotely at least until July, in part to set an example to its residents about being careful during the early stages of reopening from the pandemic, which has killed at least 92,000 people nationwide as of Tuesday, including more than 22,000 in New York and five in Otsego County. 

Herzig said the city has been taking small steps to reopen since the region has gotten approval from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to start Phase One in moving past the "On Pause" executive order. 

"They really were baby steps," he said. "They very good news is we are doing well. We should be well-positioned to move to Phase Two May 29." 

Herzig said he is part of the Mohawk Valley Regional Control Room, which meets daily to review the metrics from the pandemic and ensure it is safe to continue the reopening process. But he said there have still been no decisions made about the fall semester for colleges in the state and region, including Oneonta's Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta. 

"Right now there are many, many scenarios being proposed," he said.  

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