Work on hangar improvements for the Omaha Police Department's Air Support Unit and its fleet of helicopters to move to the Blair Municipal Airport is steadily moving forward.
Construction, which includes the building of office space for pilots and maintenance personnel and a mezzanine, began in January.
A sprinkler system, which was required by the City of Omaha, will also be installed in the hangar owned by the City of Blair.
“The City of Omaha has adopted a policy that all of their buildings will be sprinkled,” Blair City Administrator Rod Storm, airport manager, said. “It didn't have to be sprinkled by code.
Water tanks for the sprinkler system are expected to be installed after May 1. The project is expected to be completed by July 1.
“We're hoping that they'll be done with most of the construction and ready to occupy the building (by June),” Storm said. “Now, the question is whether or not the fire marshal will allow them to occupy it without the sprinkler being completed. It won't be completed until closer to the first of July.”
The Blair Airport Authority approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of a bond anticipate note for $1.26 million to temporarily finance the hangar improvements. Once the project is completed, the City of Omaha will be billed and the note will be paid off. Storm said the project is on budget.
The airport authority and the Omaha City Council approved a 10-year lease late last year. The City of Omaha will pay a $36,000-a-year lease for five years. Rent will then increase to $37,200 for three years and then $100 a month every three years.
While OPD has yet to move into the hangar, one of its helicopters was stored in the SkyWerx hangar. The air support unit, which includes Able-1, has been training at the airport.