Frederick’s aldermen want more time to look into whether an organization at Frederick Municipal Airport should be let out of an agreement to build new hangars at the airport.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association asked the city to be released from a lease to build the hangars, citing issues such as construction bids that came in higher than expected and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local, regional and national economies.
But several aldermen expressed concerns about voting to end the agreement before they’d had a chance to discuss the issue at a workshop, leading to a unanimous vote to put their decision off for several weeks.
The AOPA, an international organization of pilots and aircraft owners which is based at Frederick Municipal Airport, signed a lease to build more than 194,000 square feet of hangars at the airport after answering a request for proposals from the city.
But after the lease was signed and the organization began the process of creating site plans, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, and other initial work, they found that bids for the project had come in considerably higher than they’d estimated, Frederick Director of Economic Development Richard Griffin told the mayor and aldermen in their meeting Thursday night.
Because there was no expectation when the agreement was signed that AOPA wouldn’t want to move forward with the project, there was no clause included to allow it to be mutually terminated, Griffin said.
The city can issue a new RFP, and he’s confident they can find a new developer for the project, he said.
Two other companies have expressed interest in the project, but the city felt they couldn’t address them without going back through the RFP process, Griffin said.
Alderman Ben MacShane said he had questions about how the change would impact the airport.
The city has made plans to remove some other hangars on the assumption that the new hangars would replace them, he said.
Assistant Airport Manager Andrew Moore said some wooden hangars had been removed that were encroaching on a safety area for a new taxiway that’s part of an ongoing runway expansion project at the airport.
Alderman Roger Wilson asked why there was no timeline for a reissue of the RFP if there were other people interested in doing the project.
Alderwoman Kelly Russell asked if it was critical that they take a vote Thursday, noting that they have a signed agreement. The change seems like something that should be discussed in a workshop setting, she said.
The aldermen voted 4-0 to table the item and bring it to a workshop for discussion. Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak was absent from the meeting.
Mayor Michael O’Connor said the item would be scheduled for a workshop at the earliest opportunity, although no date was set.