Rochelle News-Leader | The city wants its own motorhome park at the airport in the future
ROCHELLE — The city of Rochelle has preliminary plans to put its own RV park at Rochelle Municipal Airport in the future, City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said last week.
The idea came about while trying to coordinate with the Chicagoland Skydiving Center, which operates at the airport and has its own RV park. The city wants more people to attend CSC events and visit the airport. Fiegenschuh said he wanted to make sure the area is viable for the long term, which the RV park would help do.
“I really think the airport is a great asset to the community and you have the Flight Deck Bar & Grill and the CSC and I think there’s a lot we can do to keep the airport moving forward,” Fiegenschuh said. . “Part of that was the RV park and if anyone wants to go out and watch the paratroopers for a few days and the CSC RV park is full is there anywhere we could put them at the airport where they could stay and enjoy the festivities and earn rental income for the airport? »
City Council unanimously approved an update to its airport zoning at a recent meeting that allows special use permits for banquet halls, beer halls, restaurants, meeting/meeting rooms and public recreational facilities.
This issue arose after city staff discussed and budgeted money for an RV park at the airport to generate more revenue. Fiegenschuh said a permanent RV park is part of the city’s five-year plan. He said the city would like to start work on the project “within the next two years.”
The only property tax that is assessed at the airport is used to pay the debt on the community hangar which will be paid off in 2025 or 2026. Otherwise the airport is mainly funded by leasing facilities like hangars and selling fuel of airport.
Capital projects at the airport are funded 95% by state and federal dollars and 5% by local contribution, Fiegenschuh said.
“Obviously if we do something like [an RV park,] we want to make sure that we can include that in those capital projects so that we have funds coming in and not everything is on the local,” Fiegenschuh said. “We need to be on their five-year funding plan. What drives this project to ensure we can get federal and state funding and if we can, where are we on their funding timeline? Because they might have ideas for other projects that are more important to fund first. So we have to respect their funding schedule. »
About a year and a half ago, the city had discussions about the cost of setting up an RV park of about $80,000, Fiegenschuh said. But the city manager said that figure is unlikely to be accurate in the future.
Another aspect of the project could be to increase the size of the airport sewer line if it was going to see more use.
“If we want to see more use of this, we’re going to have to do that and it could potentially be expensive,” Fiegenschuh said. “But that hasn’t been discussed for a while. The number one priority is to get that five-year funding plan through the FAA and we’ll go from there.”
Fiegenschuh touted the airport’s value to the community, including the nationally renowned CSC, which has hosted national skydiving championships in recent years.
“The airport is a huge asset for us,” Fiegenschuh said. “When you think of small towns, you don’t usually think of airports. I think our mayor and our council and those airport advisory board volunteers who give us ideas, a lot of them are pilots, their priority is to keep the airport up and running and they want to see it as one of our crown jewels. And I agree with that. We are blessed to have it and we must continue to find ways to keep it sustainable and solvent. Part of that is getting more people here to visit.”
An RV park would provide another recreational amenity for the community. Fiegenschuh called recreation facilities an important part of any community and said the future project could add to the list of things in town like the REC Center, golf course, tennis courts and parks.
“It’s about quality of life and what people value and having those kinds of amenities is important,” Fiegenschuh said. “The airport is one of the keys to a thriving community. We want to make sure that key works at all times.”