Design recommended for Hartford airport project
Some property owners upset over choice


Oct. 14, 2015

The view of the runway at the Hartford Municipal Airport is seen in this October 2014 photo.
Daily News file photo

An environmental assessment of a project to renovate and expand the Hartford Municipal Airport runway has recommended one of five alternatives for the design.

Engineer Paul Strege of the engineering firm Mead and Hunt, who’s been working on the city’s behalf, said another public hearing about the project should be held soon.

According to the report, the design includes a runway alignment to the north of the existing runway and a full parallel taxi-way on the south side. The connecting taxi-way, the south aircraft apron and north building area would remain in their existing locations. The runway is to be extended from 3,000-3,400 feet.

“They’ll announce soon when the hearing will be,” Strege said. “The public can voice concerns then.”

The assessment said “property acquisition would be required to both the east and the west of the existing airport boundary.” That will require purchasing about 70 acres.

Dana and Paul Osmanski own 17.75 acres northeast of the airport. She recently received a call from an employee of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection who was gathering information on the project’s impact on farm land.

“She was shocked when I told her the acreage is not all farmland,” Osmanski said. “She didn’t know that we built a home there.”

Osmanski said she was told by project officials the preferred alternative would require 9.9 acres of their land.

“That’s more than half and we don’t know yet if the house is in that 9.9 acres,” Osmanski said. “We finished building a $400,000 home there in 2014. No one told us then our property would be needed for this.”

Osmanski said a fourth alternative would have required more of their land.

“They were going to need 17.5 of our 17.75 acres,” Osmanski said. “They couldn’t say if our house could remain or would have to be moved.”

Strege confirmed the Osmanski property and others will be needed. He said others will be affected too.

“They’re not the only one who’s land might be needed,” Strege said.

John Novak, who has farmed in the town of Hartford for decades, said he’s been told as many as 30 acres of his land will be needed.

“I need that 30 acres to grow crops to feed my 70 milking cows,” Novak said. “We don’t have a big farm here. I farm about 400 acres, but losing 30 acres would make it difficult to feed my cows. I’d be forced to try to rent land which would be expensive and there are few acres around here that can be rented.”

Novak said he’s against the airport project because “it only benefits a few people and hurts others.”

“I see no reason why they couldn’t move it south more and use more of the wetlands there, but they won’t do it,” Novak said.

Novak and the Osmanskis said they’ve not been contacted about selling.

The report said “based on federal farmland scoring criteria, the impacts aren’t considered significant and mitigation won’t be required.”

Novak disagrees. “It will significantly impact me and others.”

According to the report, the cost for completing the recommended design would be about $3.3 million. Of that, $2.3 million would pay for runway construction. It’s estimated $873,000 would be needed for land acquisition and $156,000 for land acquisition services and other costs.

“They’re gonna have to pay me a lot for me to sell,” Novak said.

Hartford has been working on completing the project for more than a decade.

“The city proposed a new, east-west runway in early 2001 based on a feasibility study for the airport filed with the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics,” City Administrator Gary Koppelberger said. “The recommendation is the same runway configuration we’ve been recommending for the last several years.”

Koppelberger said “assuming all goes well, approval by the feds and the state would allow us to begin the land acquisition process in February 2016.”

The city’s goal was to complete the project before the U.S. Open Golf Tournament at Erin Hills on June 12-18, 2017. They now believe that’s unlikely.

Reach reporter Joe VanDeLaarschot at