New airport terminal a hit with visitors
In August of 2014, city of Merrill and Municipal Airport Commission officials gathered at the west end of the airport for a ground breaking ceremony for a brand new terminal off of Champagne Street. Last October, work was completed on the 2,400-square foot, $400,000 facility.
Funding for the facility came in large part from federal and state grants. The city’s contribution was just over $17,000.
“This new airport terminal will be the ‘welcome mat’ for the city of Merrill,” airport commission chairman Gary Schwartz said at the groundbreaking. “It is the first thing business men and women flying into Merrill to do business, will experience. It will be the new gateway, the front door to this city and surrounding communities. It will represent the City of Merrill well.”
Since its completion nearly six months ago, it seems as if the new terminal has done just that.
“We have received quite a few compliments and just all around positive feedback from the aviation community,” Schwartz adds. “Like anyone else, they enjoy stopping some place nice with amenities like we have added.”
Such amenities include a kitchenette complete with a dining room set, microwave and refrigerator; a pilot lounge with a 55” wall mounted flat-screen television; and a spacious common area with a fireplace.
The facility also includes a large conference room and restroom/shower facilities.
“This project comes in part from decisions that were made by the airport commission back in 2003,” Schwartz explains. “It was realized the Merrill airport could be a key economic engine for the city. The question was how do we go about bringing the airport up to modern aviation standards? The answer was going through a number of projects to upgrade the airport, investing a total of about $12 million. Thanks to grants like those we received for the airport, city tax payers only had to pay 5% of that cost.
“We consider the terminal to be the cornerstone of new development for commercial aviation use. For instance, one of two reasons Russ Davis Wholesale came to Merrill, was due to the airport. They use aviation in their business and they happened to find property near our airport. That was one of the deal breakers in choosing Merrill over Wausau. That economic value is attributed to the quality of the airport we have here in the city.”
Another key project on the list Schwartz refers to, which has proven beneficial to the airport is the new fuel facility which was completed in 2011.
“Our fuel sales have increased since installing the new facility,” Schwartz adds. “It’s modern and easy to use. Aviators can swipe their credit or fuel card to pay and be on their way. That means additional revenue for the airport which is always great.
“We pride ourselves on being a grass roots airport while possessing modern aviation attributes.” Schwartz adds. “We are very pleased the city was interested in taking part in this project with us, we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The new airport terminal is also available for rental for conventions and related business affairs. Those interested in more information can contact airport director Rich McCollough at 715-536-2024.