LINCOLN, Maine — Town leaders are considering a land and building purchase that could provide Lincoln Regional Airport with self-sufficiency and its most significant growth since it was built, they said Tuesday.
Jason and Jill Bouchard, owners of the Rivers Edge Wilderness Campground, are discussing selling to the town their airport hangar, nearby lounge and concession building, and about 5 acres of campground located at the north end of the runway by the Penobscot River.
Interim Town Manager William Lawrence said he supports the purchase.
“Anytime you can purchase land around your airport and help it to expand, it’s a good deal for the town,” Lawrence said. “It will help the airport to continue to grow and be funded largely by grants.”
No purchase price has been set and the Town Council has yet to approve the idea. Councilors have approved the hiring of an appraiser to review the land and buildings, said airport manager David Lloyd, the town’s Public Works Department director.
That review should be finished within several days. Lloyd plans to bring the results to the council next month for its review and possible approval, he said.
About $20,000 has been spent investigating the purchase idea so far, Lloyd said.
If the deal is approved, the town could operate the facility. Or town officials could lease the facilities to a private operator who could rent hangar space to pilots, run the concession stand and lounge, build a dock in the river to draw float plane traffic to the airport, and run the campground, Lloyd said.
“Either way, it’s a win-win for the town,” Lloyd said.
The purchase also would give the town more land around the runway, creating room to build more hangars, Lloyd said.
About 95 percent of the purchase cost, which Lloyd estimated at about $225,000, would be refunded by the Federal Aviation Administration and Maine Department of Transportation, Lloyd said. The FAA has been slowly upgrading local and regional airports for years as part of its plans to improve air travel.
Town leaders have been using grants for more than a decade to improve the airport and build on the aviation service businesses, such as PK Floats, already built around it.
The town’s five-year airport plan calls for spending about $240,000 over the next two years to replace the town’s seaplane base in the Penobscot River with a more modern structure, which would include a parking lot, access road, concrete ramp in the river and docks.
The base now is affected by silt infiltration that can force airplanes to run aground or get bogged down, town officials have said.
The plan also calls for the construction next year of aircraft storage or hangars that pilots can rent and construction of a small terminal featuring telephone and Internet service, refreshments and restrooms in 2014.
The small lounge building that is part of River’s Edge would fulfill that requirement.
Town officials already built a fuel farm per the plan and probably would relocate the tanks to the river end of the runway for greater efficiency, Lloyd said.
The Bouchards did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.