Airport Board Eyes Buying Cargo Building

Airport Board Eyes Buying Cargo Building
Sept. 22, 2011 6:40 a.m.
By George Nelson
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Western Reserve Port Authority plans to seek funds from the Ohio Job Ready Sites program to reacquire the air cargo building it sold two years ago.

The port authority is in discussions with the building’s owner, Millwood Inc., regarding a purchase price for the former Davis air cargo building at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna Township. Millwood, which manufactures pallets and other industrial packing products and services, purchased the building in a transaction that has come under scrutiny from the Federal Aviation Administration over terms of sale and the length of the lease for the property on which it sets, as well as the non-aviation related use of the building.

“The building is currently not being used for aviation. We would like to bring that back into the aviation market,” said Rose Ann DeLeon, the port authority’s executive director.

The 24,000-square-foot Ridge Road building, on airport land, was sold last year to Millwood Inc., and a long-term lease for the land on which the building is situated — for 38 years, with an option for an additional 25 years — was negotiated between Millwood and the port authority. Questions also have been raised regarding the Millwood deal over involvement of board member Scott Lewis, whose real estate company, Edward J. Lewis inc., represented the property.

Airport aviation director Dan Dickten, who attended the Sept 14 meeting of the Cleveland Freight Association, told members of the port authority at their meeting Wednesday morning that there is ‘significant air cargo” flying in and out of Cleveland and other airports “that could more than support an air cargo activity” at the regional airport. Flying freight to and out of Youngstown-Warren would keep that freight off the road and provide better efficiencies, timing and pricing for the customers, he said.

“That’s what it was built for. That was its intended purpose,” Dickten said.

DeLeon said the port authority is still determining how much it will seek from Job Ready Sites, which is in its fourth and final funding round. The total project would be around $1.5 million, and the port authority would seek 75% of that. The port authority would be required to provide a 25% match.

At the meeting, the port authority voted to transfer $11,300 from its electrical account for expenses related to the application, which is due Nov. 1.

“It has all of the amenities needed for air cargo — sort operations in the building, the apron adjacent to it was built for 747 aircraft,” Dickten remarked. “It’ll support the largest of the air cargo aircraft. So it’s basically a site that’s ready to go.”

The port authority moved back to committee an initiative to conduct a survey regarding possibly adopting a new name for the airport with a more regional focus.

Such a name change would help with the attraction of additional service to the airport, Dickten told the port authority. Youngstown-Warren is now regarded by network airlines as an airport that lost daily commercial service in 2003. Rebranding the airport would put it in a “better light” with airlines considering bringing in service to the airport and provide “a more positive atmosphere” for potential passengers.

“Many locals see this place as a deep, dark hole,” he said. The perception of the airport “has to be changed” if the airport is to reach “the next level in its potential.”

Board member James Floyd questioned how the survey would be conducted and presented to the public — the proposal Dickten presented to the board suggested the survey be done by YNGAir Partners, a local nonprofit group formed to support the airport

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