SLK gets $8.5M from state for terminal upgrade

Construction completion expected in two years

A conceptual rendering of a redesigned Adirondack Regional Airport terminal, which the airport got $8.5 million from the state this week to complete in the next two years. This image is conceptual only, and airport Manager Corey Hurwitch says the final terminal should look much different — more “Adirondack.” (Provided photo)

LAKE CLEAR — The Adirondack Regional Airport has been awarded $8.5 million from the state for upgrades to its terminal building, the main building the public spends time in at the Harrietstown-owned airport.

This upgrade project would see the redesign and expansion of the main receiving area, with more windows, easier access for people with disabilities and improved HVAC systems; an expansion of the Transportation Security Administration screening area; and a general update to the appearance and layout of the space.

The big news for the hungry people of Harrietstown is likely the expansion of the CAVU Cafe, which will be moved to the opposite side of the building and expanded for a larger kitchen and seating area.

The state Department of Transportation is distributing $230 million in awards to nine upstate airports through its Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, a process by which airports compete for state funds.

“When we initially applied for the grant, we did think it was a long-shot,” Harrietstown Town Supervisor Jordanna Mallach said. “We figured you don’t lose anything if you ask.”

A conceptual rendering of a redesigned Adirondack Regional Airport terminal, which the airport got $8.5 million from the state this week to complete in the next two years. This image is conceptual only, and airport Manager Corey Hurwitch says the final terminal should look much different — more “Adirondack.” (Provided photo)

The grant covers all of the costs of construction for the terminal, which Mallach said is a “huge” deal.

“The state really likes the communities to put up a local share,” airport Manager Corey Hurwitch said. “Because of our situation, we didn’t feel that we could afford to do that. We asked for 100% funding and that’s what we got.

“It feels absolutely amazing,” he added.

Often, he said, the state will cover 50-to-95% of the project cost and require the airport to make up the rest. Five percent of $8.5 million is still a lot, though, he pointed out, saying the state agreeing to cover 100% of the costs “can not be emphasized enough.”

The town had applied for the grant in three parts, and the state decided to fund one part — the terminal project. The other two projects both related to the parking lot area, and in total, all three parts were estimated to cost $19.5 million.

The parking lot projects would have installed electric vehicle chargers, powered by new solar panels, and funded a covered entrance area to keep passengers and aviators out of the elements at the front of the building.

Hurwitch said he will meet with the design team on Oct. 12 to get started on the terminal project.

“We expect to move very quickly,” he said. “The state expects to see about a two-year timeline on this.”

Hurwitch said he hopes construction can be done in a “seamless” way so that the airport services and cafe will not need to close. This year, the airport finished repaving its entire main runway, which was done with only four days of closure when planes used an alternate runway.

The airport is a hub for private aircraft in, out and around the North Country. It also has a contract with the commercial airline Cape Air, which offers three flights a day from SLK — two to Boston and one to New York City.

Hurwitch said the heart of the terminal was built in the 1950s. In the decades since, he said the town has added to and made upgrades to that building piece by piece. He said a general overhaul, which he’s wanted for a long time, would make the terminal’s aesthetic more cohesive and make navigating the building flow better.

It would also make it more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Currently, there are small stairs in several places in the building.

This project will bring in LED lighting, new wayfinding signs, an expanded post-security seating area with large windows for a view of the airfield, and various heating, ventilation and air conditioning enhancements. The project application says more air-flow would be nice, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and Mallach said energy efficiency is “definitely needed.”

“The installation of geothermal systems will offset the HVAC costs and reliance on the existing oil fuel heating system. It will also introduce air conditioning for the first time throughout the entire building,” according to the grant application. “Both the HVAC system and bathrooms do not meet current code.”

“This project directly supports our goal as a town to move towards energy efficiency across our community,” Mallach said in a statement. “We have seen a steady rise in commercial travel through our airport thanks to federal funding, and this renovation will provide increased comfort and security for our passengers as they enter and depart from the Adirondacks.”

The project application says the airport supports nearly 74 full and part-time jobs.

Mallach said the security area currently does not meet certain security specifications required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Hurwitch said the FAA and TSA are always adding new technology, and unlike most other types of tech, security technology always seems to be getting bigger, and they need more space for growth.

“Passenger security was shoehorned into the northeast corner of the building barely providing TSA required space,” according to the grant application.

Hurwitch said he’d like to get the CAVU Cafe kitchen up to what the people cooking up meals in there need.

“Josh (Bovee) has done an incredible job with what he’s been given, but that kitchen is so limited in its capabilities,” Hurwitch said.

The state Department of Health requires more sinks for washing kitchen supplies every couple years, he said, and they need more space.

There’s a lot to do, and it starts with deciding what airport and town leaders want the terminal to look like.

Hurwitch said he wasn’t happy with conceptual images included in the application, but that they are definitely not the final design images. The engineers for the application images use the same basic palates and limited software for all designs, he said, and none were “Adirondack themed.” The cafe looked especially bad, he said.

“The images and drawings in the application are conceptual only,” he said in an email, warning those who would see them. “Everything is subject to change during the design phase.”

Josh and Clair Bovee, who run the cafe, will get input, he said.

Hurwitch and Mallach thanked the many people involved with applying for this pot of state money.

“I firmly believe one of the main reasons DOT looked at our project was the tremendous support from the community,” Hurwitch wrote in an email to town officials.

In a press release from the town, Mallach credited Airport Manager Corey Hurwitch, Councilmember Ashley Milne and Passero Associates, an architecture engineering group out of Rochester, for their “hard work … compiling the necessary information to complete the application and gathering letters of support.”

A letter of support from TSA Federal Security Director says “the security screening area is too small for the number of enplaned passengers the airport currently serves,” which “creates significant passenger back up and safety issues” during holidays.

The project also got letters of support from Cape Air Senior Vice President of Planning Andrew Bonney, ORDA President and CEO Mike Pratt, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO James McKenna, Assemblyman Billy Jones, Franklin County Legislature Chair Donald Dabiew, former Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau, former North Elba town Supervisor Jay Rand, Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin, former Tupper Lake town Supervisor Patti Littlefield, Brighton town Supervisor Peter Shrope, Bionique Testing Laboratories CEO Gladis Zamparo, Hotel Saranac General Manager Jacob Kipping, North Country Community College President Joe Keegan, Trudeau Institute President and Director Atsuo Kuki, and Adirondack Health President and CEO Aaron Kramer.


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