Airport facility runs into communications glitch

Kenai's operations center not operating

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2002

The Kenai Airport Operations Facility has turned out to be a misnomer, since it isn't operational yet.

The new facility had a ceremonial opening in August and was scheduled to be fully operational by early September, but a glitch with the installation of communications systems has kept it from being completely utilized.

One part of the multi-use facility was designed to house the two airport rescue and fire-fighting vehicles and a firefighter who would be stationed there at all times. The rest of the building was designed to be used for office and conference room space for airport personnel, warm storage for sand and snow removal equipment and a special bay for washing airport equipment.

The portions to be utilized by airport personnel and maintenance crews and equipment are already being used, said Rebecca Cronkhite, airport manager. Its just the firefighter and airport rescue and fire-fighting vehicles that aren't there yet.

The reason is the lack of functional communications, radio and alarm systems in the building. Tundra Communications, the service provider that was supposed to install these systems, went bankrupt during the two-year building process.

"We had to stop the whole process," Cronkhite said. "That's the only thing holding up full use of the facility."

When Tundra went bankrupt, a new communications service provider had to be brought in. That provider had to start from scratch by studying the schematics and wiring plans of the building and then doing the hard wiring.

The electrical contractor put in all the conduits in the building, so the new service provider just needs to pull wires and install the new equipment, Cronkhite said.

"It will be very easy," she said. "... The building is prepared for this system, it's just the wires aren't all pulled yet."

In its Sept. 18 meeting, the Kenai City Council passed a resolution approving a $264,769 contract to Motorola for new communications systems equipment, part of which will be used in the operations facility. In its meeting last Wednesday, the council approved purchasing telephone equipment for the facility. All that's left now is for it to be installed.

Cronkhite estimated the work would be done and the building occupied by Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, the airport is not without fire service. The fire department can respond to any emergencies at the airport from its station on Willow Street as it has done in the past.

"They can come down here," Cronkhite said. "We could use a portable radio and they can respond. We're just not to where we will be when we get all the communications work done."

In other action Wednesday, the council:

Voted unanimously to pass a resolution directing the continuation of a paving project at Schooner Circle after the residents worked out a payment arrangement among themselves.

Voted unanimously to pass a resolution awarding a $78,969.30 bid to Hutchings Chevrolet Cadillac Inc. for an airport dump truck. This is the second resolution awarding this bid to Hutchings. The first was rescinded after the city's administration determined the bid had significant exceptions to the specifications.

Voted unanimously to pass a resolution adopting the city of Kenai 2003-2004 Capital Improvement Project Priority List for the request of state grants. At the top of the list is $10 million for the construction of the Kenai Coastal Trail, followed by $3 million for roads and $1 million for dipnet fishery projects, including paving of the dock area, new launch ramps and a new dock access road.

Voted unanimously to pass a resolution directing the continuation of a paving project at Toyon Way.

Voted 5-2 to pass a resolution supporting the development of a dental clinic in Kenai. Council members Jim Bookey, Amy Jackman, Linda Swarner and Duane Bannock and Kenai Mayor John Williams voted in favor of the measure, with council members Joe Moore and Pat Porter voting against it.

Voted 6-1 to pass a resolution designating Sharon Harris, department assistant, as deputy clerk. Bookey voted against the measure.

Elected Bookey as the new vice mayor over Linda Swarner, who had previously held the position.

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