By Nathan Johnson
A project scheduled to get under way at Chan Gurney Municipal Airport as early as this fall will help keep unwanted visitors off the grounds.
Survey and design work has already begun for a wildlife fencing project that will surround the airport property between Highway 81 and Peninah Street north of 31st Street. It will consist of an eight-foot woven wire fence topped by three strands of high-tensile non-barbed wire, which will make the typical section 10 feet high. Chain link fence fabric will be used instead of woven wire in the terminal area and along 31st Street.
“It’s going to be quite an improvement at the airport,” said Gary Carlson of Carlson Aviation, which is the fixed-base operator of the facility for the City of Yankton. “The current barbed-wire fence around the airport is not secure.”
City commissioners are going to discuss the matter during their meeting tonight (Monday).
Many years ago, a plane struck a deer on the runway, he said. Additionally, dogs and cattle have been spotted on the runway.
“If you hit a 1,000-pound cow coming in, that would ruin your day,” Carlson said.
The project, which has long been planned for the airport, was bid out in late August and came in well under the engineer’s estimate. It was believed construction of the fence would come in around $477,000. However, the apparent low bid, submitted by Custom Fence of Logan, Utah, was $350,000.
Two other bids were also received — a $395,000 bid from American Fence of Sioux Falls, and an $859,000 bid from Willard Schmidt of Yankton.
Yankton Public Services Director Kevin Kuhl said a grant application for the project has been submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We should hear back about it fairly soon,” he said. “It would cover all expenses for the project and some associated environmental issues.”
As part of the grant agreement, the city would be responsible for $13,000, and the South Dakota Department of Transportation would be responsible for $19,000.
In addition to keeping animals off the property, Carlson said the fence would also deter humans looking to steal a plane. The June break-in to the airport alleged to have been committed by Colton Harris-Moore, known widely as the “Barefoot Bandit,” was fresh in his mind, Carlson admitted.
“Ultimately, this will make the airport safer for the flying public,” he said.