The Two Harbors City Council, at their regular meeting on Monday, March 11, approved a proposal to move ahead with a project to construct a new seven-unit T-hangar at the Two Harbors Richard B. Helgeson Airport.

The airport has a waiting list of 16 individuals requesting hangar space, partially due to the closure of the runway at the Silver Bay airport.

"There are airplanes that need homes," said Shawn McMahon of Short Elliot Henderson, the project manager. "And what makes airports successful is having more home-based airplanes at their airports. So this is an opportunity to make these aircraft a permanent residence. That's what's driving this project."

The project is estimated to cost about $1.08 million; however, about 90 percent of the project would be funded by Federal Aviation Administration via grants and 5 percent of the funding would come from the Minnesota Department of Transportation Office of Aeronautics.

While the FAA will cover about $900,000 of the project, the money needs to come from FAA entitlement dollars. Every year, the city of Two Harbors receives entitlement dollars in the amount of $150,000. These can be banked for up to four years for a total of $600,000.

The city's current balance is $350,000, which means $550,000 in additional entitlement dollars would be required for the FAA share. To secure the additional funding, SEH will assist the city to negotiate entitlement transfer agreements with other communities to receive their entitlement dollars in 2019 for a future repayment in a later year.

"Basically you're saying, 'Hey, we have this project we want to tackle now. Can we have your $150,000 now and in the next year, we'll give you our $150,000 since we won't be taking on any big projects?'" McMahon said. "The FAA keeps track of these transfers on a ledger. It's a pretty common occurrence."

Although this process isn't guaranteed, McMahon said this process has successfully worked at other airports in the past to allow a critical project to move forward.

The council voted unanimously to accept the proposal and move forward with the project; council member Cathy Erickson was absent.