Metro-East News

Will MidAmerica Airport start charging for parking?

MidAmerica Airport near Mascoutah.
MidAmerica Airport near Mascoutah.

The St. Clair County Public Building Commission on Thursday approved $23,000 for a study to help decide how to improve parking conditions at MidAmerica Airport near Mascoutah.

The current parking lot has 1,281 spaces that are “continuously over” 80 percent full, and there are times when “less than a handful” of spaces are available, according to the airport.

The first parking lot was built with 569 spaces in 1998. It was expanded to 838 spots in 2016, and to 1,281 spots in 2017. The recent increase was due to more flights offered from Allegiant Air. Another flight destination to Phoenix, Arizona, is due to start in November.

The commission approved $749,000 in February to increase parking to its current capacity by adding 438 spaces.

The commission solicited requests for proposals for paid parking systems in April. One, from Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, an engineering consultant for MidAmerica, includes a review of the parking lot, a recommendation on the best type of parking system, a review process and an executive summary for the commission.

Paid parking systems include cashiers, parking meters and other options.

An airport memo to commissioners showed that a $3-a-day charge could bring in nearly $800,000 a year, and a $5-a-day-charge could bring in about $1.3 million, according to previous BND reporting.

The study would take about three weeks, according to the firm.

The $23,000 will fund the first of four phases in the firm’s parking plan. The second phase would include designing the parking system. The third phase would include selecting a vendor to build it. And the fourth phase would include overseeing construction.

Fee estimates for additional phases could change pending the findings of the first one. However, the consulting firm outlined preliminary costs of all four phases of up to around $140,000.

In other business, the commission approved a contract extension for snow and ice removal with Munie Outdoor Services. Munie, which won the contract in 2014, agreed to a one-year extension for on-call snow removal at the 2014 level.

The airport paid Munie about $12,000 in 2016, and it was expected to pay a similar amount in 2017.

Additionally, the commission approved the hiring of Matthew Glover, of Fairview Heights, as assistant director of operations at a rate of $19.32 an hour. Glover has spent more than 30 years in military and commercial aviation, according to the commission. His responsibilities will include security, compliance measures and management.

The airport also reported that June saw the highest number of passenger boardings, at 15,373, an increase of 32 percent from the 11,662 boardings in June 2016. June and July were the peak boarding months that year.

Casey Bischel: 618-239-2655, @CaseyBischel