Pilots will have comfortable facilities, room for conferences

by: Submitted concept drawing - Steele Associates Architects of Bend propose a modern aviation building.

   Pilots who have avoided the Madras airport -- even when conducting business locally -- will no longer have a reason to skirt the city by this time next year.
   A concept drawing for a new general aviation building for the Madras Airport got thumbs up from the Madras Airport-Industrial Site Commission Feb. 10.
   "What we have in existence has no facilities for a pilot to do anything if he's going to wait three or four hours," said Gary Dinkel, a pilot and member of the commission. "With the new lounge, he's going to have a bit of a rec room, a place to clean up, and a place to take a nap."
   In addition to a pilot's lounge, snooze room, and shower/restroom area, the aviation building will feature a lobby, conference room, manager's room, men's and women's restrooms, kitchen/vending area, other offices, a mechanical room, and a janitor's room.
   "Pilots control where airplanes land," said Mayor Rick Allen, noting that one of the city's goals is to "make the pilots happy."
   By providing a comfortable place for pilots, where they can hook up to the Internet, watch television, play pool, or take a nap, "We can grow some business out of it," Allen said.
   Plans for the 3,580-square-foot new building were presented by Scott Steele, president of Steele Associates Architects of Bend. Steele estimated that it would cost about $115 per square foot to build, plus fees, for a total of about $452,870, including full architectural, civil, landscape, structural, mechanical, and electrical design services.
   The exterior will feature a stone wainscot around the perimeter, and a sloped, stone chimney with a custom metal flue cap "that is reminiscent of an airplane tail fin," said Steele.
   The flight services building will replace the 600-square-foot pumice block building -- consisting of one large room plus a restroom -- that has served the airport since the early 1950s.
   "Our current terminal doesn't even meet the basic needs of aviation today," said Allen. Meeting those needs is "pretty key to our success," he added.
   A former World War II pilot training facility, the Madras airport property includes about 2,100 acres. The runways, taxiways, hangars and other facilities take up only about 10 acres of the total acreage.
   Although the property was turned over to the city and county after the war, the Federal Aviation Administration still retains final jurisdiction on the use of that property. Proceeds from the sale or lease of the property must go into the dedicated airport fund to be used for improvements.
   The city will have about $250,000 in the airport capital investment fund before the facility is built, Morgan pointed out. Most of that money will come from the sale of property at the new Jefferson Park Business Center, northwest of Cherry Lane and U.S. Highway 26.
   In addition to the airport fund, Sens. Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith announced in November that the city would receive $300,000 from the 2005 federal omnibus spending bill for a flight services building.
   "We're not going out to the voters," said Lou Dobbins, pilot and longtime commission member, noting that there should be sufficient funds available to construct the building.
   "As Madras grows, the airport precedes and goes along with the vision and growth," said Dobbins.
   The new facility will make it easier for local companies to conduct business. "We have three or four businesses that need to get in and out of here on a constant basis," he said, adding that a new facility will "start getting people's attention."
   Because the city needs to have actual construction costs ready by June 30 in order to receive the $300,000 from the federal government, the Airport-Industrial Site Commission recommended that Steele Associates proceed with construction drawings, which are expected to take about two months.
   With a few modifications, the plan will be referred to the Madras City Council for approval at its next meeting, Feb. 22.
   "The design challenge to us is to set the tone for the new airport industrial park, and do it on a tight budget, and create a design that bridges the gap between the agrarian roots and character of Madras and a modern aviation building," said Scott Steele. "I think we pulled it off."
   If the City Council approves the plan, construction could begin during the summer and be completed by the end of the year, Morgan said.
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