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Monday, May 2, 2016

Cost of airport wildlife fence reaches $1.7 million

Friday, April 29, 2011

McCOOK, Nebraska -- The Federal Aviation Authority required wildlife fence at McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport will cost significantly more than initially estimated. Monday evening, during their semi-monthly meeting at Memorial Auditorium, the McCook City Council will review a consulting contract which now estimates total cost of the project at $1,769,712. That amount is just shy of an $800,000 increase from the $970,344 estimated in March.

City Manager Kurt Fritsch said the increases are a result of the FAA now requiring a 12 foot fence with barbed wire on top, as well as a four foot barrier below ground. The city is responsible for funding five percent of the project, initially estimated at $48,517. The new project cost nearly doubles that amount, pushing it to $88,485.

In March, city staff unsuccessfully explored the possibility of avoiding the expense of the new fence altogether, in light of the U.S. Senate passing the FAA Reauthorization bill, that, among other things would eliminate commercial air service to McCook and other airports that averaged fewer than 10 passengers per day. It was determined then that the fence would still be a requirement in order for the airport to maintain its part 139 airport certification, which allows for small 10-30 seat airlines. The bill made further progress, April 1, when it was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Three public hearings are also scheduled during Monday's meeting to discuss liquor license applications from Loop Brewing Company. The restaurant, which is located at 404 West A Street and targeting a July opening date, has applied for standard liquor licensing to serve beer, wine and distilled spirits, as well as a Class L license for craft brewery.

Renewal of a 2006 encroachment agreement between the city and Coastal Mart Inc., formerly located at 707 West B Street, has been recommended for approval. City staff has indicated that the agreement continues to be necessary to maintain existing monitoring wells, installed to address a petroleum leak at the location.

An ordinance authorizing the sale of a portion of a city owned lot to August Jones will be presented for approval. Jones is purchasing 40 feet of the north portion of the lot at 301 E. Second Street. The remaining portion of the lot will be donated to the McCook Economic Development Corporation to house a county donated home.

Other items on the consent and regular agenda;

* The second reading, of three required for approval, regarding changes to the McCook city ordinance book is scheduled.

* The contract between the city and Sampson Construction for construction management service for the new municipal facilities building will be presented for approval.

* Council members will review a request from Community Hospital to set up a water slide in Kelly Park for a June 11 event.

* Councillors will review proclamations designating May 15 as "Police Officers Memorial Day," the week of May 15-21, 2011, as "National Police Week" and a third proclamation targeting May 8-14, 2011, as "Nursing Home Week."

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Someone be smart enough figure out a more sensible approach to this. Really $1.7 mil for a fence?? I'm not sure it's even worth having Great Lakes fly into here for that kind of expenditure...

-- Posted by flynh3 on Fri, Apr 29, 2011, at 3:22 PM

It is interesting that when a project is mandated to be put in, the price soars higher than the aircraft that will be landing here. Ha. Twelve feet high?? What do we have in Nebraska that can jump twelve feet into the air, and not trip over the concertina wire on the top of it?? Perhaps it is needed to 'keep a species 'IN??" Hmmm.

(Chicken Little, Chicken Little, Chicken Little)


-- Posted by Navyblue on Fri, Apr 29, 2011, at 4:14 PM

For 1.7 million - they could permanently hire me to sit in a chair by the runway and blast an airhorn right before take-offs and landings to keep the deer away.

-- Posted by Mickel on Sat, Apr 30, 2011, at 8:04 PM

And interesting how when Federal money is the primary source to pay for this the price doubles.

-- Posted by love2liveinmccook on Sun, May 1, 2011, at 5:44 PM

This is your feral government people. What if we had to pay for this? Is this airplane really worth it?

-- Posted by Justin76 on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 12:50 PM

I wonder if the City has approached the FAA with an alternative to the Standard Fencing Design criteria - yes, there are other options that may be available and worth looking into.

Following is a quote from an Feb. 14, 2011 FAA article on Best Practices for Deer Hazard Mitigation - Alternative Deer Fencing.

However, when installation of chain link fencing is not feasible due to cost or environmental impacts, other types of fencing may be installed. Cost alone is not an acceptable reason for rejecting the use of chain link fencing.

In some cases, electric fencing may offer a practical alternative to the use of chain link fencing. Recent improvements in fencing components and design have greatly increased the effectiveness and ease of installation of electric fences. Tests by the USDA's National Wildlife Research Center have shown that some 4 to 6-foot, 5 to 9-strand electric fence designs can be 99% effective in stopping deer. Installation of some of the new electric fences require neither specialized equipment nor training and can be accomplished by airport personnel.


Maybe it's time to ask the City if all options have been explored?

-- Posted by Geezer on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 7:23 PM

Justin, not sure what your point is?

If one of your loved ones were on a plane and they were killed because of a collision with a deer, would you still be asking the same question?

Just wondering.Perhaps the value of the plane is not worth it, but a human life might be.

The cost of the fence is crazy. There surely is an alternative, that costs much less. Just seems like everytime a federal agency is involved the cost is excessive.

They could have a lottery and have a daily winner that would have to protect the runway and has the right to shoot any deer that came on the grounds.

Deer population control,and happy hunters.

-- Posted by goarmy67 on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 11:40 PM

I would rather take my chances with wildlife on the runway than having a terrorist or someone of that nature on the plane. Pilots do have to watch out for wildlife. This isn't a perfect world like others think is should be. I even seen a pilot skip over a skunk as not to damage his small aircraft. I'm sure a fence, 12ft. tall would keep out a skunk and other small animals. And if everyone is so worried about this, what entity is going to control birds?? I can see a fence, but not a $1.7m fence. Is the commercial airline doing any good for the city? Sure doesn't sound that way. And the way things have happened in the past, the citizens will end up having to pay for part of this too. Sure isn't worth the headache and cost....

-- Posted by edbru on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 7:06 AM

A small plane can get over a skunk and maybe even a deer and land safely on the runway. However, what about a Business jet or even the air ambulance?

Geezer, while they allow use of electric fences for wildlife mitigation in airports, it may not be enough for the part 139 airport fence. As what you posted and in the link Cost alone is not enough to reject chain link.

There's a lot more air traffic at McCook than Great Lakes or small planes. Here's a site that tracks IFR traffic http://flightaware.com/live/airport/KMCK

-- Posted by npwinder on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 8:32 AM

did any of the posters here take advantage of the council meeting last night to pose your questions and opinions directly to the council?

-- Posted by Fundin on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 9:18 AM

npwinder & Fundin

I am just trying to provide information that may help make the project become possible.

I won't bother commenting on this subject any further since the community doesn't seem to think it is a sound investment for the future.

No sense wasting anymore of my time doing research for a lost cause.

-- Posted by Geezer on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 12:48 PM

I think if there are other alternatives to the extensive fence as proposed, hopefully the city will look into it.

Although since the airport was named after Mr. Nelson maybe he could kick in to help pay for it. Just sayin..............

-- Posted by love2liveinmccook on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 1:03 PM

Ok, did anyone attend the council meeting to voice an opinion about the fence?

-- Posted by Fundin on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 4:03 PM

hey mickel, im willing to split on call time with you

-- Posted by president obama on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 5:21 PM


The only mention listed on the agenda was the approval of the Consulting Contract with W Design Associates for the design and consulting engineering services for the project.

I don't see where it mentions discussing the increased costs or additional FAA requirements - see item "E" on the agenda link below.


The above referenced article by the McCook Gazette is the first time I read about the increased costs - after the meeting had already taken place.

Guess I don't get around enough.

-- Posted by Geezer on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 5:42 PM

I never heard anything about this fence issue till I saw it here online. So much for getting the community involved...... Does anyone know who the contractor will be for the fence? It seems like all major construction projects go to contractors outside of McCook.....keeping our dollars in town......

For the 2 or 3 flights we get into Mccook, I would be happy to sit on the tarmac with my shotgun and take care of the deer problem...

-- Posted by businessX2 on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 9:40 PM

For the 12 month period ended 5/31/2010 there were 16,900 aircraft operations into and out of McCook with only 1,700 of those being airline traffic. This averages out to about 46 flights a day.


Geezer, I appreciate the research. I forgot to add in my previous post that I don't know either way if the electric fence would be allowed in this case and couldn't find anything either way. I just wanted to throw out there that it was a possibility that it may not be.

Personally, I think the fence is a good idea even if McCook loses the airline. A lot of people get caught up with the airline service they forget about the General Aviation side of things such as local pilots, business jets, private planes. There's even a small cargo plane that flies in several times a week from Denver typically via North Platte.

I'm also guessing it's probably hard to want to land a 2-21 million dollar business jet at an airport for fuel when there's a possibility of hitting a deer. Especially since with a little bit of planning most of these planes can probably go to Grand Island, Kearney, or North Platte.

-- Posted by npwinder on Wed, May 4, 2011, at 12:44 AM


Put "wildlife fence" into the search bar and you will find numerous stories on this issue that were reported on at several public meetings just like the one reported in this story.

-- Posted by McCook1 on Thu, May 19, 2011, at 9:14 AM

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