New airport ramp needs $565,000 repair

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An Elkhart Municipal Airport parking ramp that was paved in 2018 needs a a $565,000 repair after two jets sank into the asphalt in June.

ELKHART — An Elkhart Municipal Airport terminal is getting a $565,000 parking ramp repair after two airplanes sank into the pavement in June.

The ramp was installed by the city in late 2018 at a cost of about $50,000, according to city attorney Lawrence Meteiver. Airport director Dave Pixey said the price was closer to $85,000.

The terminal near the ramp is leased from the city by Indiana Flight Center. The ramp is not part of the deal and is not exclusively used by IFC, and so the repair costs fall on the city. At the Monday City Council meeting, that struck Councilman David Henke, R-3, as unfair.

“We just can’t keep asking our taxpayers to be the ones really footing the bill of the overall project,” he said.

According to Indiana Flight Center president Brett Zierle, the jets that sank into the pavement were a 30,000-pound Bombardier Challenger and a 15,500-pound Cessna Citation XLS. The planes’ wheels sank slightly into the ramp on days when temperatures reached 75 degrees and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, he said.

“The asphalt is soft. It will not support the weight of those airplanes,” he said.

According to Meteiver, engineers have determined that a different type of asphalt mix is needed to support those types of planes.

Councilman Dwight Fish, D-4, argued that concrete would be better and last longer, but Meteiver said a concrete ramp was estimated to cost between $900,000 and $1 million.

The new asphalt mix will be of a type recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to Meteiver.

“When the existing asphalt was laid down, those guidelines weren’t followed,” he said.

It is now too cold to repave the ramp, and so the project will not take wing until after winter.

Indiana Flight Center manages and maintains private airplanes for local businesses, according to Zierle. However, the parking ramp outside the terminal can be used by pilots who are not Indiana Flight Center customers, according to Meteiver.

Zierle said a repaired ramp would help accommodate people flying in for business or events related to the University of Notre Dame.

Henke said that since Indiana Flight Center leases the terminal for $12,000 a year, the city is putting itself in a situation where it will not break even on that deal for 47 years when it has to make improvements that cost half a million dollars.

“In no one’s business mind does this work,” he said. “I don’t know who negotiated the lease with you guys. I wouldn’t have done it.”

Pam Kurpgeweit, R-6, who is the City Council’s liaison to the Board of Aviation Commissioners, said that whether it is good business or not, the city needs to pay for the repair.

“We did lease the building, so we now have a liability to the leased person and the business, and we have an obligation to the people that come out and use this airport,” she said.

The new ramp is expected to last 20 years, according to Meteiver.

This article was updated on Oct. 24, as a previous version misrepresented the location of the parking ramp.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(32) comments


Let the customers who use the flight center and ramp pay for the upgrades rather than all the taxpayers in the City of Elkhart, who have no access to that service!!


Helen! Reread the story! The ramp has NOTHING to do with the flight center ! They are separate. The City screwed up! They did NOT follow FAA regulations. Why would that be the fault of the flight center? So Helen do you feel you should personally be responsible for bad paving in a cul de sac if you were the only resident?


The easy thing to do here is tell the Flight Center to go pound sand as Joe has suggested. the right thing to do is seldom the easiest thing to do but it is always the right thing to do. The city screwed up and and needs to fix it.That is the right thing to do.

Joe King

$565,000 to replace and it is expected to last 20 year...That's $28,000/ year if we are to break even and even assume there is no maintenance.....I would hope the airport management and the city could at least start there for rental cost.. The city should not be in the business of supporting people to park their jets and toys there.... I can't believe we are just now finding out about these sweetheart deals....How long has this been going on? Where is the fiscal management the Republicans claim to be at?


Joe, I don’t want or need to know your financial status to know that you hate the rich. You remind me of it with every post you make, remember the hit and run driver had to live on Greenleaf and be well connected? Your words Joe.

Joe King

Your memory is failing...sad....and yes, they did live near greenleaf contempt like most Americans is the rich, but the breaks and unfair perks they seem to a sweetheart deal for parking your jet on tax dollars dime....


Yep Joe, I remember the quote about the way sidearm describes it. And Joe there is probably a 1000 homes near Greenleaf blvd! I really doubt there are many private jets at Elkhart airport. There are however some corporate jets and charters. Just saying Joe! Just sayin!

Joe King

You love putting words in peoples comments to suit you...The direction of travel put them heading East....and a Cadillac.... You assumed I was talking about someone on greenleaf...I said greanleaf area... and, I was correct. And, the business they left it was NE of accident... Again, I will write slower. My problem isn't with being rich. It is people taking advantage because they are. Like for example, wanting to build a multi million dollar realestate development downtown, and expect the property to be giving to them and not pay fair market the condo's at alick's parking private jets at a sweetheart deal...$500k and to last 20 years? Completely waste of tax dollars....


Joe Joe Joe!!! I didn't assume anything. And what is that Greenleaf area, anyway? As I said, there are 1000s of homes in "that" area. The Cadillac thing was all about your aversion to rich people driving "expensive" vehicles. Actually I can't remember if you used the Cadillac name. The Cadillac description came from PD info. And did I state you mentioned the Cadillac? When we were told the make model and year, I looked it up on KBB. That is where my statement originally came from! Talking with you Joe is like talking with my old friend Randy. I see he is not posting anymore. But you are about the same in your posts. Almost identical!


Yep Joe! Aviation board has been a thing for 39 years. Not sure if it's fake news!

Joe King

Aviation board now? You said aviation association..which is it? It’s only been 24 hours..what’s changed.. you cited a trade association with inflated numbers....fake

numbers at that...back it up. It sounds like trumps inflated bogus numbers...


Let's try this Joe. Since all of a sudden U R into technicalities… It's a state wide group headquartered in Indy. Try reading some of their info. That is where the previous posts of value and importance to the Elkhart area, the local airport provides!


Yep Joe! Just not enough use for a City owned golf facility 11 miles from the nearest Elkhart east limits. And I noticed you cited parks not park being shut down! Which were they?

Joe King

Fire so you agree this should be shut down due to the golf course and park

Revolution 1776

Neat O!


The city has proved over and over they are not paving experts. Back in appx 2010 they layed a "Hearty" 1" layer in my subdivision roads. It broke apart w/in 1 year! If you want it done to last.. Call Reith Riley.....


wow! what subdivision?


Maybe that 7/11/2019 FAA $1 million grant can help pay for the repaving debacle! It's arm chaired for infrastructure and security!


The city should pay unless they have a contract that says the company can lease a hangar but isn't allowed to move airplanes to or from the hangar. I suspect that is not the case.


In the article it states the company owns the hangar. They lease the land for $12,000 annually!


Did the City do it's own paving or was it contracted out! If it was contracted out, weren't there standards and warranty periods?

RasmusSJorgensen Staff

The job was done by the city.

Joe King payers paying so the rich and store their private jets and a sweetheart deal. If this was installed a year ago and is all ready failing, someone either screwed up with the install or using too heavy equipment. Just cancel their lease and rent to smaller planes... Or raise their rent compared to other airports.... I hope the elkhart truth investigates dollars WASTED again at this airport for the rich....let them pay for it!


Do just a bit of reading Joe! We've been over this a few time. Taxpayers don't pay for the rich to store their private jets and planes. The Indiana Flight Center is a business that provides private access to jet and prop planes. Almost every evening in the summer a jet lines up with the Elkhart runway, flying over my home! I do believe they own their own hangar! They lease the ground. So anyway Joe I agree with you. Since the city did their own paving job with inadequate asphalt, it time to fix the problem next spring! And please Joe the rich bashing is really old. Kind of like that guy that crashed that 10 year old Escalade into that poor family! We found that story to be tilted also!

Joe King

Read the article fire.. tax dollars paying to replace asphalt that was installed last year...that won’t see a return in investment for 47 years if no other money is spent...that clearly is money going so rich toys can be stored there. With south bend a a 40 minute drive away I doubt companies will close their doors because they can’t park their jet here...get real...brake the lease, pay them a full year refund of 12k, re-save again and set a weight limit and rent out again to smaller planes...the tax dollars saved will be what. $500k? Poor management. This has to stop draining the city’s bank account....the hanger lease rates need to be investigated....


Shut IT DOWN This Clowns just waste money over and over again time to clean HOUSE


According to the Aviation Association of Indiana in their fall 2012 report...the Elkhart Municipal Airport's economic impact to the community is @ $197,000,000 annually! 1520 jobs would not exist without the airport! So should we shut it down???

Joe King

Fire are you serious? Aviation Association? Fake news right? CLEARLY BIASED... That airport benefits only a few....unless you count the car sales that are held there?


Joe King. Is there anything that you won't complain about? The airport helps bring more business into the city of Elkhart and Elkhart County. The people that own planes usually have a business contention here. Maybe YOU should do some research yourself before you open you mouth to complain.

Joe King

The fact you are ok with this speaks volumes....the city has no money for pay raises yet has sweet heart deals like this? stinks and should be called out.


Joe is just jealous that he does not have his own jet. Always the same story, hate the rich because they have more than him. What is their fair share of taxes Joe? I have asked you many times but have yet to get an answer.

Joe King

You don't know my economic status or what toys I have. I don't hate the rich...just when they abuse the system and take advantage of it.... I hope the Elkhart Truth investigates this and compares it to other airports and other lease and financial arrangements.... The city closed a golf course and shut parks down for less than this....

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