The board overseeing Bert Mooney Airport in Butte agreed Wednesday to spend up to $390,000 to move radio, lighting and other electrical equipment from the old passenger terminal and then tear down the building.
The specific plan is contingent on approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, which plans to move some of its equipment from the old building in February, but the agency has already said the old terminal had fulfilled its useful purpose.
If the equipment transfers are made in February, Markovich Construction could tear down the old building sometime in March or April, Scott Bell, a consultant for the airport, told members of the Airport Authority Board.
The airport opened a new $10.5 million terminal in February that includes large, glass walls that offer expansive views of Butte, the tips of the Anaconda Range and the East Ridge. When the old terminal comes down, people will get a great view of the Highlands to the south, too.
The lead architect on the new terminal project, Butte native Paul Powers, designed part of it with an expected view of the Highlands in mind.
“He did not intend for that (old) building to be in the way,” said board member JR Hansen Jr. “Those windows are designed for that view.”
Powers has led design, renovation and expansion efforts at 38 airport passenger terminals across the U.S.
Of the $390,000 expense approved Wednesday, $260,000 would go to the actual demolition work. The rest would be spent to move lighting and electrical equipment and transfer a large backup generator from Bozeman to the airport in Butte.
Some of the equipment is needed as backup lighting for the airfield and runways and the backup generator would power it and the new terminal building if needed.
The overall tab could be cut by $13,000 to $14,000 if costs to dump demolition material at the Butte-Silver Bow landfill are negated. Brendan McDonough, a Butte-Silver Bow commissioner and member of the airport board, said he is working with other county officials to see if the tipping fees can be waived.
Earlier this year, Butte resident Cameron Moylan urged board members to save and market the old terminal building for new uses. Moylan has tried to save other buildings in the Butte area, too.
But officials said it had outlived its purpose, had numerous electrical, plumbing and structural problems and the FAA would only allow it to be used for aeronautical purposes, meaning it must be directly accessible to aircraft.
It was built in 1962 with additions made in 1982, 1992 and 1996.
Board Chairman David Holman said Wednesday that any expansions to the new terminal would be made to the south, where the old building is.
In the meantime, after it’s demolished, the area might be used for expanded parking.