May 26, 2018
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Lincoln voters to decide on airport purchase plan next month

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

LINCOLN, Maine — Voters will decide during a special election next month whether to allocate about $232,000 toward making Lincoln Regional Airport a self-sufficient moneymaker for the town, officials said Thursday.

The Town Council voted unanimously Monday to put on the ballot a question seeking voter approval for the purchase of a small terminal building, a nearby hangar and about 5 acres at the north end of the runway near the Penobscot River.

The election will be held July 31, Town Clerk Shelly Crosby said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Maine Department of Transportation will reimburse Lincoln for 95 percent of the purchase price, which still is being negotiated, said David Lloyd, the town’s Public Works Department director and airport manager.

“It will give us facilities that we need down there, such as restrooms, a small terminal building,” Lloyd said. “It will give us hangar space that we could immediately rent and some land” for more hangars.

Lloyd and Tim LaSiege, an aviation engineer for the MDOT, briefed the council on the purchase. Afterwards, LaSiege said the purchase would make the airport competitive with other town and regional airports, though he preferred to think of them as complementary parts of the same state network.

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, said Lloyd, who announced the plan late last month.

Lincoln’s airport is probably behind most other airports of its size in Maine in that it lacks a fixed-based operator and a terminal-type building. It does, however, stand unique among most Maine airports in its access to the river, seaplane base and capacity for industrial growth, LaSiege said.

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, followed by construction of a small terminal featuring telephone and Internet service, refreshments and restrooms in 2014.

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