JOHNSTOWN - A Broome County engineering firm was deemed the most qualified to do design work for a proposed $230,000 Automated Weather Observation Station for the Fulton County Airport, county supervisors learned this week.
County Planning Director James Mraz said that McFarland Johnson of Binghamton - with an office in Saratoga Springs - last week submitted a proposal to have the county pay a $29,943 fee for its work.
"As you know, we've been talking about this AWOS project," Mraz told the Board of Supervisors' Buildings and Grounds-Highway Committee on Monday.
The county has for some time considered AWOS, which will provide on-site weather information to pilots using the Route 67 airport. The county is planning a $230,000 capital project to install AWOS. The Federal Aviation Administration will provide 90 percent of the cost, with the state and county each kicking in 5 percent shares.
The board in June authorized distribution of a request for qualifications, or RFQs, to eight engineering firms to list a qualification statement.
Mraz said that in order to access federal funding, the county must abide by FAA rules, which prohibit basing selection on strictly the lowest amount submitted. Rather, selection is based on qualifications.
"We could not ask for prices," Mraz said. "All we could ask for were qualifications statements."
He said he and several other county officials formed a "consultant selection board" to review the RFQs and McFarland Johnson was deemed most qualified after each member did an "independent analysis."
Mraz said McFarland Johnson will now apply to the FAA and state Department of Transportation for grants to pay for 95 percent of the cost of the work. He said the grant application needs to be filed by Aug. 30. Once grants are approved, he said, design work will commence.
He said the county will do actual construction for the project in 2013.
Mraz said in the past that pilots "need weather information in order to land and take off." He said pilots currently try to get information from someone who happens to be at the airport when they radio in.
Mraz said AWOS makes the airport more useable. With no current AWOS system, he said, there also is a public safety concern.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org