GREENVILLE — The Greenville City Council approved a contract Tuesday with the Michigan Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics that will allow for the installing of a fuel pumping system at the Greenville Municipal Airport.
The project, which is referred to as a “fuel farm,” but is essentially fuel pumps, will mean the city takes over ownership of fuel sold at the airport, a responsibility for decades had belonged to private companies.
City Manager George Bosanic said the city owned a fuel system several years ago, although it was operated by a private company.
“There were some issues with that,” he said. “There were even some allegations of fraud and that sort of thing.”
That system was later removed, Bosanic said, on orders of the Department of Natural Resources because of leaks.
Since then, the city has had systems owned and operated by the private sector, but Bosanic said that came with setbacks.
“We have this history of being at the mercy of whomever it may be and I’m reluctant to do something when the private sector can do it, but given the history this is actually common that other airports have municipally owned systems that sell fuel,” he said. “And because they sell fuel, they can actually generate some revenue as a result.”
Bosanic said the most important benefit of a city-owned and operated fueling system is what it will mean for airport traffic.
“In order for an airport to be successful, it has to have fuel and has to be competitive with its fuel,” he said.
The planned project is estimated to cost just more than $250,000, although 95 percent of that will be paid for through federal and state funding sources. The end result will be two installed fuel sources, both the normal aviation fuel and jet fuel.
“What that buys is a state-of-the-art, duel-fuel, fuel farm system that has the capability of jet fuel and (aviation) fuel,” said Bosanic, adding that will open the airport up for more users, thus increasing revenue.
The city manager said there are users of the airport who are “seriously considering” the use of small jets, which require a different type of fuel than the types of planes Greenville’s runways normally see.
“Our airport becomes busier, it goes up in usage and opens up other doors for us as well,” he said.
With the approved contract, Bosanic said the project will likely begin in the spring.