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City will get bids on a new hangar for the Gundersen Med-Link helicopter

Posted: Mon, Jul 2, 2018 7:17 PM

The Decorah City Council has unanimously voted to get bids on an airport hangar for the Gundersen Medlink helicopter--but not before a lengthy discussion about the costs involved.

When Gundersen Health Systems approached the City of Decorah about headquartering a helicopter at the Decorah Airport, it agreed the lease payments on a helicopter hangar would pay off the costs of building the new hangar.  But bids on the hangar were far higher than the city or Gundersen expected.  Adding living quarters for helicopter staff meant higher costs, the two groups learned.

The new proposed hangar will have a separate building for living quarters.  But city officials believe the costs may reach $1.3 million, including the $340,000 in financing costs.  Gundersen Health had agreed to pay $1 million--meaning the City of Decorah would have to pay the remaining $300,000.  City council member Dan Bellrichard said city council members had assumed Gundersen would pay all costs.

Airport Commission chair Brett Willie said building the new hangar "is in our best interest" since the city would own the hangar free and clear after 20 years.  City council member Andy Carlson said having the Medlink helicopter headquartered in Decorah was a quality of life issue, so it would be in the city's interest to work with Gundersen.

The city council unanimously voted to open bids on the project--although that was not necessarily a sign the bids would win the council's approval.