FRYEBURG, Maine — The planning board July 7 approved a 10,000-square-foot aircraft hangar proposed for the Eastern Slope Regional Airport.
The project was presented by project engineer Matthew O'Brien of McFarland Johnson. He said it would be roughly 100 foot by 100 foot but the dimensions may vary a bit.
The hangar, to be built on the north side of the aircraft apron, is designed to shelter aircraft such as the jets typically used by corporate executives or the helicopters used by the Canadian military, which comes to Fryeburg for training.
"They can already come here, but what we found in our study is they can't stay because the weather here is too unpredictable and there is no security," said O'Brien, who shared an anecdote about business people getting stuck in Fryeburg in a 2018 storm.
"They flew in, and they had an unexpected icing rain ... And it (their plane) was stuck there for two weeks. There was no de-icing capabilities at the airport."
Issues like that prevent people who rent such planes from flying to the valley and spending money.
"The purpose of this hangar is to get people to come to this region," said O'Brien.
The reason why the airport hangar dimensions can vary a bit is because the building itself will be pre-manufactured, and manufacturers build these facilities to slightly different specs.
O'Brien said so long as the building is wide and tall enough to house airplanes and strong enough to hold snow loads, the hangar will meet the airport's needs.
The hangar will be paid for with a $1.2 million grant from the Economic Development Administration, $500,000 from the Northern Borders Commission, $150,000 from New Hampshire and Maine Departments of Transportation, the FAA has also contributed several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Sun asked O'Brien how many planes could fit in the hangar. He said it depends how big they are and what kind. For instance, it's possible a large plane could have its wings overhang smaller planes. Or they could have a bunch of small planes in the hangar.
"So it's a bit of a Rubik's Cube, depending on who comes and when they come and who needs to leave," said O'Brien. "There's an infinite number of nesting possibilities here."
Planning board members raised a few issues such as what happens to the water from the ice melted off the airplanes stored there.
Normally, planes don't leak fluids, he said. "If it's dripping, you have a problem and shouldn't be flying." He also said that no maintenance will occur in the hangar, so there's no need to worry about petroleum products leaching out.
Planning board members discussed if they wanted to hold a public hearing.
"I guess I would feel good enough that you don't have one, but I know with being at the airport, and there's been controversy with other things going on at the airport," said Ed Price. "I guess I would make a motion to have a public hearing at our next meeting meeting, July 22."
But fellow board member Tom Rebmann didn't think that was necessary because residents voted in favor of the lease.
"I sort of feel like the town already kind of weighed in on on that," said Rebmann.
Planning board members decided no public hearing was necessary and approved the project 4-0. The other planning board members are Charles Buterbaugh, chairman Patrick Emery, and Edy Kizaki, who was absent.
O'Brien told the Sun that Jewett Construction of Raymond, N.H., and Scarborough, Maine, is the "responsible low bidder" with a bid of $1,986,038. The next step is to ask for USDA and EDA approval to award the bid. The official award notice is to go out in August.
"The ESAA was not going to proceed without the approval of the Fryeburg Planning Board," said O'Brien, adding that groundbreaking could be in the fall.
At the 2018 Fryeburg Town Meeting, residents passed Article 32, which allowed selectmen to enter into a 40-year lease with the airport authority for the purpose of building the hangar.
This year, the authority is seeking a 99-year lease. Fryeburg voters will decide that question at today's election, being held at the Doris asdasdasd.