“I think the approval was a very good and progressive move,” said Birtz. “The acquisition opens a lot of possibilities for the town. We are very excited about it.”
Voters approved the measure in last Tuesday’s election by a 3-to-1 margin.
Birtz said that the town has a master plan to expand the airport in a bid to bring more industry to our area. When the property they are acquiring became available it allowed them to move up their timetable by about three years. She explained that several features of this property made it very attractive to the town, and also to the FAA who is subsidizing most of the costs.
“The FAA wants an airport that will be self-sufficient. The hangar on this property can be leased for storage, generating income for the airport. The campground on the property can also generate revenue.”
But Ruth was quick to say that the town was not intending to run the campground. Instead, they are looking for a fixed-base operator, who will manage the facilities. She said that they would be glad to entertain proposals from potential operators.
After the operator is found, the next step in the plan would be to develop fuel depot services at the airport. Currently, pilots need to either have fuel trucked in to the airport, or fly their planes to another airport to fill up. The addition of fuel sales and restroom facilities would make the airport much more useful and attractive to pilots from outside the area.
Additional plans for the property include development of a sea plane base, utilizing the property’s frontage along the deep water section of the Penobscot. The existence of a road to that portion of the property was another selling feature of the land deal, as it will allow the construction of the base less expensively than if the town had to put in a road from scratch.
Ultimately, the goal is to increase usage of the airport and facilities to bring in both private and commercial traffic. Birtz and the town are convinced that a better equipped airport is one key step towards attracting developers to the Lincoln area. And the hope is that more private pilots would use the airfield as well.
“It would be nice,” said Birtz, “if Lincoln became a destination.”