Metro-East News

St. Clair County Board approves airport parking lot expansion

Allegiant Air Punta Gorda/Fort Myers flight giveaway

Kay Connolly, of Mascoutah, on Thursday won two round-trip tickets to Punta Gorda/Fort Myers and a hotel stay from Allegiant Air out of MidAmerica Airport.
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Kay Connolly, of Mascoutah, on Thursday won two round-trip tickets to Punta Gorda/Fort Myers and a hotel stay from Allegiant Air out of MidAmerica Airport.

The St. Clair County Board on Monday approved an expansion of MidAmerica Airport’s parking lot during a special board meeting. The project is expected to cost $749,000.

The project will add 438 parking spaces to bring the parking lot to 1,276 spaces. The parking lot currently has 838 spaces.

Work is expected to begin by March 27 and be completed by May 14 when the airport reaches 25 weekly flights.

At its summer peak, the county-owned airport in Mascoutah expects to need 1,018 parking spaces, 180 more spaces than the lot can currently accommodate, airport documents say.

Board members awarded the construction portion of the project to Rooters Asphalt out of Beckemeyer for about $625,000, which is less than the engineer’s estimate of $764,800.

When including the engineering for the project, the total cost of the project is expected to be about $749,000.

The trajectory is going in the right direction at MidAmerica. The deficit has been going down because we increased fuel sales, we increased usage. We have that asset there. We hope that flights continue to increase. A lack of parking is a good problem because for a long time we didn’t have anyone in that lot and now we’re seeing full lots.

Mark Kern, St. Clair County Board chairman

The project, which will be paid for with county capital improvement money, was approved in a 17-9 vote.

Voting in favor of the parking lot expansion project were County Board members Bob Allen, June Chartrand, Carol Clark, Marty Crawford, Willie Dancy, Jerry Dinges, Ken Easterley, Steve Gomric, Susan Gruberman, James Haywood, Paul Seibert, Ken Sharkey, Scott Tieman, Lonnie Mosley, Bob Trentman, Rick Vernier and John West.

Voting against the project were Bryan Bingel, Fred Boch, Kevin Dawson, Frank Heiligenstein, Craig Hubbard, Nick Miller, Michael O’Donnell, Steve Reeb and David Tiedemann.

Board Members Joan McIntosh, Joseph Kassly and Roy Mosley Jr. were absent from Monday’s special board meeting.

Heiligenstein said the county should start charging for parking at the airport, where it is currently free. He added the county also needs to have a capital improvement plan.

“We continue to expand the parking lot, we’re adding more passengers, and we continue to lose the same or more money it seems like,” Heiligenstein said. “I don’t see the value of some of this.”

The trajectory is going in the right direction at MidAmerica. The deficit has been going down because we increased fuel sales, we increased usage. We have that asset there. We hope that flights continue to increase. A lack of parking is a good problem because for a long time we didn’t have anyone in that lot and now we’re seeing full lots.

Mark Kern, St. Clair County Board chairman

Boch recommended a $2 a day charge for parking.

“It’s probably not going to turn anyone away from going to MidAmerica,” Boch said.

County Board Chairman Mark Kern said the county is working on a parking plan and said needing to increase the amount of parking is a positive for the airport.

“The trajectory is going in the right direction at MidAmerica. The deficit has been going down because we increased fuel sales, we increased usage. We have that asset there,” Kern said. “We hope that flights continue to increase. A lack of parking is a good problem because for a long time we didn’t have anyone in that lot and now we’re seeing full lots.”

Kern added charging for parking is something to be considered, but needs to be balanced with staying competitive.

“We need to balance all those factors. It is something that makes sense, but there are many airports in Illinois that don’t charge for parking,” Kern said. “We still have to be competitive if we want to continue to gain flights like we’re doing.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter

How they voted

  • Voting in favor of the parking lot expansion: Bob Allen, June Chartrand, Carol Clark, Marty Crawford, Willie Dancy, Jerry Dinges, Ken Easterley, Steve Gomric, Susan Gruberman, James Haywood, Paul Seibert, Ken Sharkey, Scott Tieman, Lonnie Mosley, Bob Trentman, Rick Vernier and John West.
  • Voting against the parking lot expansion: Bryan Bingel, Fred Boch, Kevin Dawson, Frank Heiligenstein, Craig Hubbard, Nick Miller, Michael O’Donnell, Steve Reeb and David Tiedemann.
  • County Board members absent: Joan McIntosh, Joseph Kassly and Roy Mosley Jr.
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