08/06/10 — County OKs land buy for airport

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County OKs land buy for airport

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 6, 2010 1:46 PM

The county is anticipating spending about $362,000 in state grant monies to purchase approximately 42 acres near the Goldsboro-Wayne County Airport.

The land, referred to as the Crawford property, is located east and northeast of the runway.

"The 42 acres are part of a long-term plan that the county has been looking at in conjunction with the airport authority in the past," County Manager Lee Smith said. "It is part of the expansion around the airport, but it is also keeping areas clear because of instrument landings."

The county has received preliminary approval from the state and is waiting on the "final word" on the grant before proceeding with the purchase, he said.

The purchase was announced following a closed session that lasted more than 90 minutes Tuesday morning. The closed meeting was called to discuss location/expansion of a business, for attorney-client privilege and to discuss land acquisition.

The meeting adjourned after commissioners approved the purchase in a 6-0 vote. Commissioner Andy Anderson is out of the country and did not attend the meeting.

Also on Tuesday morning commissioners awarded a $2.484 million contract to low-bidder Barnhill Contracting Co. to repave the airport runway.

The contract will be contingent on receipt of a $3 million state grant. The $3 million will include a local match of between $250,000 to $350,000 that was included in the county's 2010-11 budget.

The repaving project will force the airport to close for up to two weeks in either August or September.

The runway project is one of several projects including lighting, security, landscaping, hangar improvements and high-speed cable Internet access in progress as the county assumes sole ownership and operation of the facility.

Formerly a joint venture of the city and county, recent legislation transferred all of the city and airport authority money and assets to the county. The airport, hangars, equipment and infrastructure are valued somewhere between $20 million and $30 million.

In the next legislative session, the county will ask that the airport authority be dissolved.

For now, the authority exists as more of a formality to finish transferring some cash that was in checking and to take care of some logistical issues of grants.

Most members of the authority have stepped down to clear the way for the transition of the airport to be operated as a county department.

Commissioners, during a July 23 special session, appointed Smith, county Finance Officer Pam Holt, Emergency Services Director Joe Gurley, Clerk to the Board Marcia Wilson and county Purchasing Manager Noelle Woods to the authority.

Gurley is in charge of the airport as a county department and Doug Lancaster is airport manager.

The authority has elected Gurley as chairman, Ms. Woods as vice chairman and Ms. Wilson as secretary-treasurer. Longtime member Paul King remains on the board.

The authority will meet on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 2 p.m. in room 458 in the courthouse annex.

Over the next month, the authority will talk about changing the airport's name that for now is still the Goldsboro-Wayne Airport.