July 12, 2024

Aerial applicator company pledges $400K investment to airport

Improvements will come at no cost to the City of Newton

City council members were very quick to approve a request from a local aerial applicator whose parent company has proposed to invest more than $400,000 in improvements to the leased facilities and surrounding pavement at the Newton Municipal Airport, and it would be at zero cost to the city and taxpayers.

“It seems like a no-brainer,” council member Vicki Wade said.

In return, the city would have to approve a new and extended lease agreement with Midwest Custom Ag Aviation, Inc. (MCAA) for use of the Community Hangar, formerly known as the Maytag Hangar. The lease agreement between the city and the local aerial applicator was set to expire May 31, 2025.

The Community Hangar has been leased by aerial applicators since 2011.

Ethan Nasalroad, manager of the Newton Municipal Airport, said with the new taxiway coming through MCAA lost about one-third of its ramp space. The company needs a lot of ramp space to load aircrafts and park airplanes during peak seasons in the summertime.

“They’ve known about this for a while, and this is a great opportunity to help that,” Nasalroad said at the May 15 council meeting. “And they’re not asking the city to do anything with space we took from them previously. We’re all for this. They are a great customer and they’ve been very good to work with.”

Obviously, the company is showing it is willing to stick around by making a large investment into the airport. Although it will be MCAA’s ramp space, Nasalroad said the designs will be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. It should be a nice addition to the airport, he added.

According to city documents, MCAA’s parent company Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC of Collierville, Tenn., has proposed to include a 20-foot-wide extension to the existing mixing building included in the lease, along with a large area of pavement adjacent to that same building.

These improvements are meant to facilitate the expansion and improve efficiency of the tenant’s aerial application business. In return for the large investment, the tenant is seeking a new 10-year lease to ensure their investment can be utilized over a longer period of time.

MCAA/Helena Agri-Enterprises has also agreed in principle to increase the existing $12,000 Community Hangar lease payment to $14,000 annually for years one through five of the new lease; followed by an increase to $16,000 annually for years six through 10.

When the new lease sunsets, the lease amount will be open to further negotiations and possible adjustment.

The improvements and extended lease provide many benefits to the city and its airport. It assures continued fuel sales and airport traffic over the next 10 years, increases the revenue to the airport budget and supports location operations by the tenant that employ local citizens during spray season.

Also, should the tenant ever vacate the facilities, the airport will have the additional paved ramp space for other airport operations during peak times.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.