LAKE PLACID - Construction is underway on the apron expansion at the Lake Placid Airport.
The apron - where planes are parked, loaded and refueled - will be expanded by 81,000 square feet, according to Aaron Romanowski, the construction inspector for C&S Engineering. C&S was hired by the town of North Elba, which owns the airport.
Workers were smoothing out the gravel surface of the area on Wednesday using a roller and a bulldozer. Asphalt will be poured soon.
A small, private airplane is parked Wednesday at the Lake Placid Airport. In the background, workers flatten out the surface area where the apron will be expanded. Soon they will pour the asphalt.
(Enterprise photo — Matthew Turner)
"Basically we are expanding the existing aircraft parking," Romanowski said.
A total of 15 new plane parking spaces will be added once the work is done. The planes are parked using "tie downs," metal lines or straps that anchor planes down against gusts of wind.
Construction began on May 19. The work is contracted for 30 working days, which would make the finish date June 27 - a week from today - Romanowski said.
The capital project costs $852,000, according to North Elba Budget Officer Catherine Briggs. A Federal Aviation Administration grant funded $766,800, or 90 percent, of the project, which also has some state and town funding.
There are several hangars on the property. Two Tee-hangars near the construction zone that can house 10 planes apiece, and there are also two hangars used by Adirondack Flying Service, a charter company that operates at the airport for the town.
Phil Blinn, a pilot for Adirondack Flying Service, said the business owns seven planes. There are a total of about 35 planes at the airport, and most are privately owned, he said.
"It's pretty busy here; we are one of the busiest airports around for small airports," Blinn said. "There is hundreds to a thousand (flight) operations here. Operation alone, we have one of the busiest charter services in a 100-mile radius."
A new drainage system is also being designed on the apron. A drainage "swale," or depression, is dug along the outside edge of the expanded space. One manhole and three catch basins are already constructed to drain water from the apron.
Other smaller aspects of the project include crack repair on the existing apron and installing red lights along the outside edge of the apron once the work is completed.
"Anytime we can improve our airport, it's good for business and good for Lake Placid," town Supervisor Roby Politi said. "My brother is a pilot down there, and he's worked there for 40 years. Locals love that place. It's one of the nicest community airports around."