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Airport officials eye expansion of main terminal

DICKINSON - Construction of the main terminal at Dickinson airport was completed early in the summer of 2001.

Just a few months later, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 brought about a sea of change in flight security. And because Dickinson's terminal had been designed without post-9/11 screening requirements in mind, airport officials were left having to make-do with a newly built facility.

"We ended up using a good part of our lobby to handle the security part," said Tom Reichert, chairman of the Airport Authority Commission. "Then in the meantime, we got more flights and bigger airplanes, so there's more people using a smaller space."

But now airport officials say they're looking to create some breathing room in the terminal that has seen increasing numbers of passengers in recent months.

Plans are in the works to expand the ticketing and baggage areas, the lobby, and the "sterile area" where passengers wait for flights after going through security, airport manager Matt Remynse said.

Remynse said Friday the airport is in the midst of fee negotiations with an architecture firm. Once that phase is over, blueprints will be drawn up, he said.

Reichert said the airport has budgeted for the $425,000 expansion and would like to start construction in the spring of 2009. But he said the project hinges on funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"I'm worried about that, you know, whether...we're going to have enough money to do what we want to do," he said.

Federal funding, however, came through in a big way for the airport's two parking lot projects, Reichert said. The airport got "more funding than we ever expected" to expand the lot near the main terminal and to rehabilitate the lot next to the general aviation terminal, he said.

Remynse said he signed a $345,000 FAA grant on Friday to fund the revamping of both parking lots. The airport awarded bids on Tuesday to contractors to grade and pave the lots, he said.

In other construction news: the completion of a 2,000-square-foot addition to the airport's general aviation terminal was announced Friday.

The GA terminal is used by corporate fliers, amateur pilots and package delivery companies like FedEx and UPS, Remynse said.

Reichert said increased oil activity and other economic development created a need for the $335,000 addition. He added that the GA terminal makes a first impression on many visitors to Dickinson.

"(The addition) just gives the airport and Dickinson a better and more professional, more updated look," he said. "There's a fair amount of business-related people that their first image of Dickinson is that general aviation terminal."

The addition gives passengers better access to the parking lot, Remynse said. It includes a waiting area for passengers, a business counter and an office for the owner of Dickinson Air Service, which sells fuel, maintains aircraft and offers lessons and rentals to fliers, he said.

"It just provides a lot more room than they currently have now," Remynse said.