Despite being made aware that 75 acres southwest of the Union County Airport is available, Commissioner Tom McCarthy said the county probably won't bid on the land.

Despite being made aware that 75 acres southwest of the Union County Airport is available, Commissioner Tom McCarthy said the county probably won't bid on the land.

Scott Cubberly of Delaware said he has an option to go forward with the sale. The property is owned by Delaware County Bank. Cubberly first approached the Airport Authority a couple months ago and then the Union County Commissioners this past week about the land availability, explaining that he has talked with someone interested in having a breeding facility placed at the site.

"There was a lot of interest in that regard," he said during a June 22 meeting with the commissioners.

Steve Bell, architect for the facility currently standing on the site, spoke during the Airport Authority meeting and said there would be problems with occupancy, according to John Popio.

Popio, is vice chair of the Airport Authority, said Bell was attending the meeting for another matter and brought the issue to the Airport Authority's attention.

Cubberly said he if he spends $100,000 to bring the property up to code, then he would want a 10-year lease to recoup expenses.

He and the commissioners previously discussed the property and Cubberly thought that the county had an interest in acquiring it for airport development or to add another runway in the future.

Commissioner Gary Lee said several years have passed since a discussion was held about the runway.

"And you kind of walked away from that as I recall," said Lee.

Cubberly said early in the meeting that he thought it would be a good option for the county in order to gain access and control the existing property.

McCarthy said the issue will be discussed with Charles Hall, who was absent because of surgery, but he did not give Cubberly hope for a short-term solution.

"We're not in a position to borrow money, because we are either at debt capacity and we don't have the cash," said McCarthy.

Cubberly asked if there would be a way of financing the purchase.

"Sure, but it is a direct debt obligation to the county," said McCarthy. "There are limits on how much you can borrow. We've got some other things that are more urgent in my opinion."

Popio said an additional runway is still in the master plan, but it is not an active pursuit.

Bruce Rausch, a member of the Airport Authority, said it was not the authority's decision to bring the proposal to commissioners. Popio agreed with Rausch in a discussion after the meeting. He said members came along to help with clarifications on questions that might arise.

McCarthy asked Popio if the land purchase would qualify for federal money.

Popio said after the meeting that the land purchase would probably not qualify as a 90-10 federally funded project.

"Land acquisition is a very low priority," he said during the meeting.

Popio acknowledged that the decision on land acquisition was made about two years ago.

"My guess is that's not going to change," he said. "If it were needed for obstruction removal or clearly related to the runway expansion, it would be a different issue."

McCarthy asked if there are currently any additional revenues generated by the Airport Authority other than hangar rentals.

Popio said 43 individual T-hangars have been built over the course of 30 years, with 13 completed a little over a year ago. He said they have rented all of the new hangars except two.

McCarthy said there is no other revenue stream available to pay for the land. He described it as an unfortunate situation.

"I don't know what your time is on this," McCarthy said to Cubberly, "but we are struggling through budgets for the next year. Unless there is a creative way to create cash flow, it probably won't happen as good as an offer as it may be. It's not a lack of interest."

Cubberly assured the commissioners that they would not have to write a big check, but suggested working something out over a number of years.

"Debt is debt," said Lee.

McCarthy, who agreed, said there is a statutory limit on what the county is capable of doing.

catwogan@yahoo.com