By Nathan Kraatz
WILMINGTON — The Clinton County Port Authority authorized a three-year lease for 3,900 square feet of office space at the Wilmington Air Park for Airborne Maintenance & Engineering Services (AMES) for approximately $2 per square foot.
The port owns the airpark.
Port Chair David Hockaday said AMES would use the building as office space for inspectors and administrative personnel. He also said the expansion was not related to a research program on corrosion AMES and the University of Akron intend to conduct, but he didn’t know if contracts were already signed.
Kevin Carver, the port’s executive director, said he believed it was a significant project and that the port was offering the space at a reduced rate to help spur job growth. There are two one-year extension options available.
“We’re working with AMES with a major, new client, and this will assist them with what we hope will be a pretty robust job creation effort,” said Carver, adding that the port would normally ask for a higher rate.
“One of the purposes of a port authority is to create employment,” said Hockaday. “And there should be significant employment involved. … It should be a substantial increase for AMES.”
All members present – Hockaday, Bill Marine, Ed Kuehn and Richard Thompson – authorized the lease. Eric Laake arrived later in the meeting, and Brent Probasco and Brian Smith were absent.
In other business, the port:
• Approved up to $30,000 for work on an ASR-9 radar at the airpark. Carver said the work would cost between $25,000 and $30,000 and said the Ohio/Indiana Unmanned Aerial Systems Center verbally agreed to provide $20,000 in aid, too. As previously reported, the port, the state of Ohio, the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center, U. S. Air Force Research Laboratory and the U. S. Air Force hope to use the ASR-9 to create a “portal” into military airspace.
That portal, officials hopes, would be able to track drones, which are smaller, fly lower and harder to detect than traditional aircraft. If the radar can detect unmanned aircraft, feeds from the radar can be used to prove to the Federal Aviation Administration that drones can be flown safely.
“I know this is complicated, but I believe everybody here … (is) acting in good faith,” said Carver. “This is an exciting opportunity.”
Carver said the project could give the airpark an advantage with organizations wanting to fly unmanned aircraft and do research on them.
• Approved an expansion of a lease for Santa Rosa Systems. The 13,000 square-foot expansion will last for two months, but Carver said he was optimistic that would be expanded. Carver also said SRS hoped to add two or three more employees, too.
• Won a bid for two used snow brooms from Dane County, Wisconsin. Costs to transport, maintain and purchase snow broom cores were approved. In all, the two brooms will cost $88,000 total, according to Carver, compared to $185,000 each for new ones.
• Closed on a loan for Weathervane Drycleaners. A request for reimbursement has been sent to the state of Ohio, which agreed to fund the Revolving Loan Fund while current applications, like Weathervane’s were considered. Weathervane owner Jim Finnegan told the Wilmington News Journal he would invest in equipment and the appearance of his business.
• Approved up to $33,000 to be spent with Cox Paving on priority repairs to areas of the airpark, including asphalt repairs to about 60 “small spaces” on the active runway. The port said it would try to minimize airport traffic disruption, saying runways could be opened overnight while work was done.
• Approved up to $14,000 to remove dead trees at the northwest corner of the airpark. Wright Way Tree Service would remove the trees, which endanger a chemical storage facility and LGSTX staff, according to Carver.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.