Spearfish awards bids for major improvements

Pictured is debris left on a runway at the Black Hills Airport/Clyde Ice field in August 2019 when a jet hit a deer on the runway. The city awarded a bid Monday to build a fence around the airport to prevent deer from getting on the runway. Courtesy photo

SPEARFISH — Two major capital improvements projects in Spearfish have taken significant steps forward as bids have been awarded to both the wildlife exclusion fence project at the Black Hills Airport/Clyde Ice Field and Phase 1 Infrastructure at the Sky Ridge housing development.

In February, the city hired KLJ to design a protective barrier around the small airport in order to keep wildlife off the runways. Until recently the fence project was moving along at a snail’s pace, until an incident during the 2019 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally involving a Challenger 300 jet and a deer on the runway spurred action from the Federal Aviation Administration to release funds to be used for the project.

“It’s a project that’s well over due, and unfortunately, like a lot of things with the government, specifically with the FAA, until I email around a picture with a puddle of blood and a dead deer and airplane parts on the runway, then all of a sudden everybody gets excited (and says), ‘well, we need to do something,’” said Ray Jilek, fixed base operator and manager of the airport during an interview in February.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, Spearfish officials voted to award Quinn Construction Inc., the contract to build the fence at a cost of $1,279,870.50. In a recommendation letter from KLJ, the engineering consultant firm said that construction of the fence will ultimately be funded through a FAA Airport Improvement Program, “with no local or state matching funds.”

Sky Ridge development infrastructure approved

At the meeting, council also voted to award Zandstra Construction Inc. the contract to begin Phase 1 infrastructure for the Sky Ridge housing development at a cost of $3,958,843.26. The bid award came shortly after the council also approved a settlement of the $9,994,558.05 sales tax bond, which the city has taken out in order to begin construction of the development.

“We borrowed $10 million dollars and spent $4 (million) tonight, and I’m really proud of that,” said Mike Harmon, city administrator, during Monday’s meeting. “This Sky Ridge project has pushed many in this room, and many that aren’t in this room to their limits, and so (this is) a really exciting next step for our community. (I’m) really proud of that.”

Harmon said a ground breaking at the Sky Ridge site near Exit 17 would be scheduled for next week.

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