The Winona City Council is expected to formally designate the municipal airport and additional properties as an industrial park on Monday.
The city is seeking industrial designation for the airport in order to allow the city of Winona Port Authority to borrow $12 million without voter approval for improvements to the airport. City staff members are hopeful that the federal government will reimburse the city for all but $1.2 million of that debt. Local spending on the project is contingent upon receiving federal funds. Announcements on whether Winona will receive federal funding this year are expected to be made by the end of the month.
The City Council already approved the first round of bonds and initial out-of-pocket expenditures for the airport earlier this summer. The industrial park designation is necessary in order to issue bonds without voter approval, which is typically required for city borrowing. The city is also declaring the land in the industrial expansion as “marginal,” giving the city additional authority to put it to more productive use.
An earlier version of the proposed industrial expansion drew criticism from a crowd of over 50 people who protested plans to include half of Latsch Island in the industrial district.
The proposed industrial park expansion includes areas planned for a runway extension at the airport. It also includes Airport Lake and nearby businesses that are not part of the airport project.
The airport renovation project will update guidance systems in addition to improving runways and taxiways. The current state of the airport is a safety concern, according to city staff. City officials said that having a well-maintained airport is crucial to the city’s economy. Airport Operator George Bolon explained that without the proposed runway improvements, business jets would not be able to land in Winona in foul weather.
The council meeting is Monday, August 19, at 6:30 p.m. at city hall. This meeting is open to the public.