Port of Kennewick to purchase Vista Field hangar

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMay 13, 2014 

Port of Kennewick commissioners are wrapping up the last major item on the Vista Field Airport closure to-do list -- buying the hangar of a Kennewick businessman who had wanted to be the airport's operator.

Commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday to buy Mike Shannon's hangar for $506,500.

It was the last unresolved issue with the closure of the airport, which occurred Dec. 31. The port is in the process of planning the site's redevelopment.

Port officials and Shannon negotiated in good faith, but called in a mediator to help them come to an agreement because of some differing opinions, said Port Commission President Don Barnes.

Shannon will continue to occupy the building for a short time while a hangar is built elsewhere, Barnes said. The sale is expected to close by the end of the month.

The port has spent about $532,000 on closing the airport, said Tammy Fine, the port's finance director and auditor. That includes repaying state grants, painting giant X's on the runway, fuel tank removal, hangar lease agreement negotiation legal fees, utilities and additional liability insurance.

Port officials had estimated closure costs at about $1.2 million, not including a $500,000 litigation fund or buying Shannon's hangar.

Port commissioners in June 2012 rejected Shannon's proposal to be the airport's operator and ended negotiations. They then hired Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. to look at redeveloping the airfield and expanding it, but unanimously decided to close it and move forward with redevelopment.

Port commissioners in March hired Duany Plater-Zyberk to develop a master redevelopment plan for the 113-acre site, including possible financing and phasing. The contract is for up to $383,000.

Port commissioners plan to ask a core group of agencies and Tri-City residents to give advice and input. Exactly who will be on the advisory committee hasn't been decided yet, but commissioners hope to choose a diverse group of about 13 who can represent the region as a whole.

Port commissioners plan to keep the committee relatively small, but Barnes said they want to make sure there is plenty of opportunity for public input.

Staff members had prepared a list of organizations and citizens who either might be affected or had expressed interest in the redevelopment project. Port commissioners plan to bring back suggestions of committee members in the near future.

-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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