City officials discussed future projects at the airport with a particular focus on a feasibility study regarding extending the runway by 1,000 feet during a meeting Tuesday, March 19.

City Manager Joseph Slocum highlighted three projects — a self-service fuel farm, automatic gate and runway extension — that the city is considering for the Belfast Municipal airport. The self-service fuel farm was previously discussed as the most feasible project to complete, because of the short- and medium-term benefits.

Slocum estimated extending the runway would cost between $10 million and $12 million and the feasibility study is just the first step in the process. Front Street Shipyard and athenahealth have expressed an interest in the runway extension, which would allow larger jets to land and take off at the airport.

In addition to the cost of the project — which is much more than the $150,000 the city receives annually from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — Slocum said there were 16 locations where trees were identified as being possible obstructions that would need to be addressed.

Slocum told councilors the city would work with the FAA to determine what trees need to be removed. He noted that some of the potential problem trees are located on private property that could be acquired through easements, which the FAA would pay for.

Councilors Mike Hurley and Roger Lee raised concerns about the assessment that there are trees around the airport that are potential obstructions. Hurley noted that a past survey from six or seven years ago did not identify any such problem areas. Slocum responded that that was part of the reason the city would want a current survey completed to identify specifically any issues.

Lee raised a concern that the city would need to clear large areas of land in order to extend the runway. Slocum acknowledged that the feasibility study would take about one and a half to two years to complete.

No action was taken by the Council regarding the future airport projects.

In other business:

Councilors listened to an update regarding the creation of some two-hour parking spaces behind the Opera House in the Beaver Street Parking lot.

A one-year lease between the city and Brooks Preservation Society was approved to allow trains to operate on a portion of the city-owned rail corridor.

Councilors approved increasing the fee to $100 for events at the Boathouse that draw more than 75 people.

A request to bypass normal bidding procedures to specify that Mathews Brothers would provide new doors and windows for the Boathouse was approved.

The city hired Norman Poirier as the next Parks and Recreation director. Poirier served as the director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Orono for 23 years. His yearly salary will be $47,871, and he will receive a $1,200 stipend for using his personal vehicle to move and haul park-related equipment and materials.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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