Presque Isle OKs spending $900,000 to finish airport terminal design

6 months ago

With design work more than half done, construction on the Presque Isle International Airport’s new $30 million terminal should start this summer, engineers said.

Presque Isle City Councilors on Wednesday viewed artists’ images of the terminal and authorized Airport Director Scott Wardwell to spend $901,100 to complete the design process. 

The facility will replace the existing terminal, which was built in the early 1940s and no longer conforms to Federal Aviation Administration standards. The new two-story structure will make the building accessible and accommodate the greater numbers of people who use it.

“The FAA has already awarded $7 million for this project. That will more than reimburse the city for the full design amount,” Wardwell said. “We just need some short-term cash flow.”

The FAA funds are from its Airport Terminal Program under the bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Maine Department of Transportation will kick in 2.5 percent. The airport has received a $1 million grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission and is pursuing other grants.

The project could receive about $20 million in congressionally directed spending, requested by Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

City councilors approved about $1 million in June toward the project.

Sarah Buchholz from engineering firm Hoyle Tanner’s Yarmouth office showed councilors images depicting the exterior and interior of the terminal and answered questions from councilors.  

The interior will feature a timber frame design to add warmth, and designers are working with Wardwell on possible exhibits and graphics for the walls, she said. There will be an expanded baggage area, more offices, a passenger lounge and maintenance areas as well.

The Presque Isle Air Museum will also be given new space on the building’s second floor.

Councilor Kevin Freeman wondered why vending machines and not a restaurant were included in the plan.

Passengers in the past haven’t supported a restaurant when there was one, Wardwell said. Anything that relates to food is considered a rental space, which means the FAA wouldn’t cover it and it would be the city’s responsibility, he said.

“If we could put a restaurant there that could draw from the downtown, it could work,” he said. “That’s the great thing about this design for the terminal, is we can add to it.”

The design does not include a jetway, and people should know that up front, Freeman said.  

A jet bridge could be added at any time to allow people to board large planes, should big jet service come to Presque Isle, Buchholz said.

The firm submitted 60 percent of the design on Dec. 1, Buchholz said. Hoyle Tanner expects to have completed 90 percent by early February and the rest by March, with construction beginning in June or July.