Council considers future of terminal

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This is all that remains of the terminal building at Warren Field after a severe thunderstorm ripped through Beaufort County July 1. (WDN File Photo/Sara Cowell)

The terminal building at Warren Field Airport, destroyed by a storm system July 1, could be replaced with a facility housing more than just a terminal.
Those possibilities include a new emergency-operations center and multi-functional space where community groups could meet and hold activities, according to the Washington City Council’s discussion about the airport Monday evening.
The destruction of the terminal building provides the city an opportunity to revisit the role the airport has with the city’s future, said Councilman Bobby Roberson. He wants to explore including an emergency-operations center as part of the terminal, if the terminal is replaced.
“I think the one that we have on 15th Street (at fire station No. 2) currently, from what I hear, is below standard. In essence, I think during times of emergency that’s a great opportunity for us to evaluate the airport and actually include that (new EOC), get a design and move forward on it,” Roberson said.
Mayor Archie Jennings replied by saying Roberson made a good point, adding that in talks about replacing the terminal there was discussion about including a multi-functional space as part of that replacement structure.
Roberson addressed how the city, in addition to any insurance payouts associated with the destroyed terminal, could pay for a new terminal that could include an EOC and/or the multi-functional space for community use.
“I did go online and look at some grants that would be available for this type of activity. If we need to pursue that, I think it’s just a great opportunity to evaluate our position at the airport,” Roberson said.
Councilman Edward Moultrie Jr. raised the possibility of the city using some of the insurance money to buy a hangar at the airport as a revenue source (rental income from planes kept in the hangar) for the city.
Jennings said his brief conversation with the aviation-division personnel with the N.C. Department of Transportation indicated they prefer the city put funds toward replacing the terminal instead of buying a hangar as a source of income for the city.
Councilman Doug Mercer said the city should take its time in deciding what to do at the airport.
“I don’t see any real rush to replace the terminal. We’ve got a temporary facility that we can use. The manager has given us an operating (business) plan. I think we’re moving to implement that operating plan,” Mercer said. “I think he can operate out of that temporary structure. It gives us, as you say Mr. Mayor, an opportunity to look and see do we really just want a building that’s just going to serve the airport, or can it have multi-functions in that same area? If it takes us a little longer to do it, I’d rather take a little longer and do it right.”
“I agree,” the mayor replied.
Councilman Richard Brooks said if there is funding available to replace the terminal and include facilities such as an EOC or multi-functional room for use by community groups, the city should pursue that funding.
In a matter related to the airport, the council, after a closed session, authorized the advertisement of an offer to lease surplus property at the airport. City officials described the matter as an economic-development opportunity. The city has yet to receive a formal bid on the property, according to City Manager Josh Kay. The city is using the upset-bid process in its effort to lease the property.
“We are offering an opportunity for any project, any development, out at the airport … that goes along with the airport business plan that City Council recently heard that recently offers any new potential profit centers that may exist at the airport,” Kay said.
The city is looking at an option to lease and a proposed ground lease and easement agreement, including a solar skyway easement, of about 75 acres of airport property. The lease offer includes a first option for up to six months, a second option for up to six months and a lease for $22,689 per year ($300 an acre) with an initial term of 15 years, and the possibility of up to three extensions at the election of the tenant of up to five years each. The present value of the rental payments for the initial 15-year lease offer is $262,355.70. An entity making an offer to lease must deposit with the city clerk a sum equal to 5 percent of the present value ($13,117.79) in cash, cashier’s check or certified check, according to the resolution authorizing advertisement of the offer to lease.
The city retains final approval of any offer and must approve and authorize the execution of any lease offer, including option to lease, ground lease and easement agreement and solar skyway easement resulting from the upset-bid process, according to the resolution.
Solar skyways are associated with solar-energy projects, including utility grids tied to photovoltaic systems, which turn sunlight into electricity.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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