Travelers check baggage with airline Ravn Alaska at the Kenai Muncipal Airport on May 31. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion file)

Travelers check baggage with airline Ravn Alaska at the Kenai Muncipal Airport on May 31. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion file)

Kenai starts airport remodel

The Kenai Municipal Airport remodel is underway.

Construction began in mid-October, according to Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander, and will modernize the terminal building, which was first constructed in 1966.

“There’s only going to be a small amount of work done before winter comes,” Ostrander said Wednesday during a Kenai City Council meeting.

Ostrander said that the real work probably won’t start until April or May of 2019.

“So there’ll probably not be a lot to see until we get into spring of next year.”

The remodel will bring changes throughout the airport, from the roof to the entryway, all aimed at enhancing the passenger experience and the movement of baggage and cargo. It is expected to be completed in December 2019.

Kenai received a grant of $10.6 million from the Federal Aviation Agency in September to put toward the remodel.

“These airport investments will create jobs in local communities, upgrade reliability and further improve safety of air travel for the flying public,” Secretary Elaine Chao of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the department overseeing the FAA, said in a September press release.

The terminal has been renovated three times since it was built. It saw an expansion in 1983, the addition of the restaurant and lounge in 1988, and in 2004, the sidewalks, entryways and parking lots received work. This remodel will bring a fresh look to the airport, according to Ostrander.

”We’re going to be upgrading the entire facility,” he said. “It’s going to look much different than it did before. We’re really looking to modernize the facility.”

The council’s liaison to the Airport Commission, council member Jim Glendening, said that security issues at the airport may have to be addressed down the line.

”What is beginning to appear is more interest from TSA from FAA and security issues,” he said. “That’s something we’ll have to keep in mind and address and support as we go along. Especially if AK LNG comes to fruition, we’ll have increased traffic and complications and more concerns regarding charter planes and throughput of passengers.”

Glendening said he was pleased with the project’s process so far.

“It seems to be well managed, all stakeholders seem to be included in discussions and their insights and observations are being included in decisionmaking,” Glendening said.

Ostrander did warn that some familiar art in the airport may need to find new homes.

“As we are going through the terminal rehab project there are things that have been hanging on the terminal walls for years and years and years that may very go away permanently after construction is completed,” he said.

This includes a quilt donated by a third-grade class that has hung by the baggage claim for about 16 years. Ostrander told the Kenai City Council that as construction continues, it would be pertinent to think about what to do with items such as the quilt.

“It’s going to come down during construction and we’re not planning on putting it back,” Ostrander said. “There’s going to be other items that that’s going to happen to as well. Some of it may create some amount of controversy; there’s some history in some of them.”

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