Going in right directionPublished 6:41pm Saturday, November 16, 2013
It looks like the city-owned Warren Field Airport could be taking off in the right direction when it comes to producing revenue for the city.
During its meeting Monday night, the Washington City Council will discuss items related to building a solar farm at the airport.
The proposed project has been discussed by the Airport Advisory Board, which supports the proposal. The board believes the revenue generated for the city by the solar farm will help offset some airport-related expenditures, according to a memorandum from Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director, to the mayor and council members.
We concur, and for that reason alone the council should give serious thought to approving the project.
Should the council approve the project, the city would lease airport land to Washington Airport Solar LLC for up to 15 years (an initial five-year term with options for two additional five-year terms), with rent at $1,200 per acre per year. The ground lease (which the council must approve) is for 34.3 acres. That means the rent would provide just over $40,000 a year in revenue to the city.
The solar farm, if approved, will have company at the airport.
Metro Aviation Inc. is operating an air medical service at Warren Field Airport and serve as the airport’s nonexclusive fixed-base operator.
Skydive Little Washington LLC is operating a jump school at the airport, under terms of a five-year lease. The Airport Advisory Board recommended it be allowed to operate the jump school out of the terminal annex building, for now. The school’s drop zone would be the overflowing parking lot at the McConnell Sports Complex on Airport Road.
Both businesses would pay rent for using the airport. They would also spend money on local services and supplies. That means other local businesses would benefit from their presence at the airport.
These enterprises, along with proposed improvements at the airport — including a new terminal building — should help the airport reach the point of breaking even, if not make money for the city.