Negotiations still up in air

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Negotiations between the city and Suffolk Executive Airport developer Roger Leonard are still up in the air.

Leonard and the city have been trying to come to agreement on a franchise agreement for a $120,000 aircraft service center for the past several months, said Eric Nielsen Jr., the city’s public works director.

The Suffolk City Council gave City Manager R. Steven Herbert the green light to move ahead with project negotiations during a February 2005 meeting, according to City Clerk Erika Jenkins, who researched the request.

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Leonard contends he was notified by mail last fall that his project proposal was accepted by council in October 2004.

In his original Request for Proposal, Leonard wanted to make more than 40 changes to conditions identified in the city’s initial request, Nielsen said.

&uot;The city put out the bid with certain stipulations,&uot; he said. &uot;Roger submitted his proposal with many requests for changes to those stipulations.&uot;

The delay has stemmed from trying to iron out differences between the city and Leonard, Nielsen said. Although the two parties have exchanged correspondence as recently as last week, no agreement has been worked out to date.

Leonard said

he would be willing to accept an offer similar to the one the city recently offered Larry Pennington, owner of Skydive Suffolk: The city would construct the building and lease it to him.

Nielsen confirmed the city has offered to invest $350,000 to $400,000 from its capital fund into a hangar and office for Skydive Suffolk.

The money will come from an airport development fund, he said.

Skydive Suffolk is now located on a parcel of property the city needs to make federally mandated changes to one of the airport’s runways, Nielsen said.

&uot;We’ve got to get them moved,&uot; he said. &uot;The runway expansion doesn’t happen for two years

but we are looking at building the new facility within the next year.&uot;

The lease arrangement would be tied directly to the facility’s construction costs, he said.

Nielsen said he is not aware of any plans to strike a similar deal with Leonard.