Expansion to begin soon at local airport

By Rich Bruen

After 12 years in limbo, the plan for a modern, state-of-the-art airport in DeKalb is about to become a reality.

According to Ron Naylor, director of Public Works, DeKalb is almost finished with a three-year quest to acquire all of the land necessary for the expansion of Taylor Municipal Airport, 3232 Pleasant St.

“Our goal is to have a top class, all-weather and all-purpose general aviation airport,” Naylor said.

The expansion plan, originally approved by the city in July 1980, will expand Taylor from a 40-acre, one runway and good- weather-only airport into a 600-acre airport complete with taxiways, aircraft tie-downs and an Instrument Landing System (ILS).

According to Naylor, the project is targeted for completion by the year 2000 and will exceed $12 million.

“By 1989 estimates, the total project cost was estimated at $12 million,” he said. “With inflation and other forces, the actual cost will certainly be higher.”

He also said 90 percent of the expansion will be paid for with grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with the remaining 10 percent being split evenly between the state and the city.

Between $3 and $4 million, including reimbursements from the FAA, has been invested in land acquisitions for the project thus far.

Naylor said the next step in the project will be to reroute Pleasant Street because a portion of it is located where a new northeast/southeast runway will go.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to start this in fiscal 1994,” he said. “A lot depends on the federal government. They’ll publish their format for the 1994 budget in June (1993) and we’ll know for sure at that time.”

The cost for rerouting Pleasant Street is estimated to be about $2 million.

Naylor said once Pleasant Street is rerouted, the city will build a new northeast/southeast runway, a new east/west runway (parallel to the existing runway) and turn the existing runway into a taxiway.

The northeast/southeast Loves Road also will be rerouted.

Cost for this part of the project is estimated by the city to be about $6.3 million, and will begin in 1996 or 1997.

While the runways are being built, the city also will build additional tie-downs for aircrafts based at Taylor and install an ILS system, which will permit landings and takeoffs in inclement weather.

“Right now, weather is a key issue,” Naylor said. “We have no taxiways and no Instrument Landing System. If the weather is bad you can’t go home or fly in.”

Naylor said the city’s reasons for doing all of this are logical.

“This was an issue which was wrestled with for quite some time,” he said. “It was established long ago that having a viable airport is a substantial part of doing business in a community.”

Naylor said other reasons the city decided to expand the airport were non-correctable safety deficiencies and the desire to move air traffic away from populated areas via expanded safety zones over runways called aviation easements.

According to airport Manager Rodman Carey, the majority of flights in and out of Taylor are local businesses, such as Sycamore-based Johnson Controls, DeKalb Genetics Corporation, Ideal Industries, 3-M and NIU.

“When people (potential businesses) are looking at you, one of the things they look at is how fast you can move people and parts in and out,” Naylor said. “An improved airport would definitely help us in that regard.”

Taylor Municipal Airport originally was built by the U.S. Military in the early 1940s as a test site for Army and Navy aircraft. It was sold to the city for $1 in 1946.

Taylor is one of 75 active airports in Illinois and one of 50 classified as general aviation, Naylor said.