MERIDEN — The City Council’s Finance Committee unanimously approved bonding Thursday for a new banquet hall at Hunter Memorial Golf Course and a project to add two new hangars at Meriden Markham Airport.
Councilors agreed with City Manager Tim Coon, who feels the projects are investments that will attract more people to the city and foster economic development. Councilors were also swayed by projection that both will generate more revenue than they will cost.
“These are not pie-in-the-sky schemes,” Coon told councilors. “...What it really is is an opportunity to enhance the city on an infrastructure basis but also to generate revenue.”
Committee Chairman Brian Daniels said “once that bond payment period is over, all that revenue now just becomes revenue to the city for an indefinite future, not being spent on bonds, but being able to be used to help reduce the mill rate.”
The banquet facility has a total price tag of $1,071,963, including an assumed four percent bond interest rate. The city intends to use a $406,040 state grant to offset some of the cost. The city also expects to receive $366,468 in additional revenue over the 20-year bond period from increased rent payments and another $305,600 in revenue from an increase in tournaments at the course as a result of the banquet hall addition. As a result of the grant and additional revenue, the city projects it will receive net revenue of $6,145 in the bond period and continue to collect additional revenues after that, according to numbers provided by the city.
The banquet hall will replace a temporary tent structure currently used during warm weather months at the course. City officials say the hall will be able to seat at least 150 people.
For the airport upgrades, the city is bonding a total of about $2.4 million, which includes $1.3 million already approved and $1.1 million approved by the committee Thursday. The total cost, including interest, will be about $3.4 million. The hangars, which will have room for 16 aircraft, are projected to generate $4.1 million in the first 20 years from rentals, according to Finance Director Michael Lupkas. Meriden Markham currently has a waitlist of 65 people seeking hangar space, according to Coon.
Three hangars slated to be demolished and replaced are around 60 to 70 years old and in disrepair. according to several pilots and Markham tenants, who spoke during a public hearing Thursday.
“You cannot overstate the disrepair and lack of maintenance on these hangars and the need for new hangars,” said Daniels, who recently toured the hangars.