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TH council shelves hangar project

Ken Vogel

After a lengthy discussion, the Two Harbors City Council has opted to put a hold on the fixed-base hangar operation project planned for the Richard B. Helgeson Airport.

The decision came as the deadline for awarding the bid on the almost $900,000 project approached without a secured lease agreement with the business owner for whom the hanger was to be built. The City has already spent over $50,000 to develop plans for the project, but the prospect of going forward without the assurance of a tenant gave councilors pause.

“There’s a risk involved here”, said councilor Roger Simonson who opposed the idea of going ahead with the hangar. “Once we build it, is it going to be a cost issue for the City?”

The fixed-base operation hangar was to have housed an aircraft maintenance business providing fuel and other services to planes flying in and out of Two Harbors. With the project on hold, however, councilor Seth Mc Donald said that other options may be discussed to generate revenue at the airport.

“The next move might be to build another bank of municipally-owned hangars,” he said, adding that the existing, smaller hangars at the airport are full and there’s a waiting list of potential renters. At $100 per month, new hangars could mean an additional $8-10,000 in City coffers each year.

Other council action included a motion to draft a proposal conveying the Edna G, monies in her maintenance fund and future lodging tax revenues for her care, to the Lake County Historical Society. The motion was unanimously approved.

City councilor George Scheidt said the proposal makes sense.

“The Edna G. is a historical piece of equipment and the historical society is who takes care of it.” Scheidt indicated that the proposal would include the additional .33 acres near the Two Harbors lighthouse where the Crusader presently sits.

Scheidt said he believes that the city has been serving as a middle person in the management of the historical property.

“If the historical society wanted funds to repair something on the boat they would have to come to the city council to ask for funding, when in all reality it is their funds; were just the fiscal managers.” Money to maintain the Edna G comes from the lodging tax charged on motel stays in the city —approximately $30,000 per year.

Scheidt said he anticipates the proposal will be made available for discussion at the next council meeting.

Tammy Francois contributed to this story.