MERIDEN — City officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning for new aircraft hangars recently completed at city-owned Meriden Markham Airport.
“This is a huge day for the airport,” project director Wilma Petro said, noting it is the largest construction project at the airport in its 100-plus-year history.
Meriden Markham straddles the Meriden-Wallingford line on Evansville Avenue. Five hangars have been added — three on the Meriden side and two in Wallingford.
A few of the new hangars are replacing old, dilapidated ones that were demolished. The hangars that were torn down were several decades old and considered structurally unsound for some time.
“This is a part [of Meriden] that’s been neglected for years through no one’s particular fault. It just was, it was treated as a step-child,” said Cathy Battista, a member of the city’s Aviation Commission and former city councilor.
Funding for the $3.3 million hangar project was debated back and forth by the City Council, with some councilors wanting to limit the scope of the project given the city’s fiscal challenges.
After construction bids for the five hangars came in higher than budget last year, the council voted 10 to 2 to authorize an additional $300,000 in bonding for the project, rather than building one less hangar to meet the original budget.
Proponents argued the council had an obligation to fund necessary maintenance of the city-owned facility. Officials also expect that rent payments collected from pilots storing their aircraft in the new hangars will help offset the cost of the project and eventually produce a net revenue for the city in about 20 years.
At the time the project was approved, the airport had a waitlist for hangar space of upwards of 70 pilots, including some that had been waiting as long as 20 years due to a dearth of hangar space in the state and region.