Carl Cadwell told Port of Kennewick commissioners that he is willing to be Vista Field Airport's operator, though not on terms that the port asked for during recent negotiations.
Cadwell of Cadwell Laboratories asked commissioners Tuesday to rent him the fixed-based operator building and halt the process of studying Vista Field.
Commissioners decided last month to spend up to $225,000 on a study to decide what to do with Vista Field after attempts to get an operator for the airport didn't go as planned.
The port hoped to find an operator willing to provide services such as flight lessons and aircraft repair and maintenance, as well as recruiting businesses to the 90-acre airfield near the Three Rivers Convention Center.
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However, negotiations between Mike Shannon and the port broke down, and the commission decided in June to reject Shannon's proposal.
Cadwell said he would run the airport as a businessman and would not do what the port was asking of Shannon.
Before commissioners decided in 2010 to keep Vista Field open, Cadwell said he intended to move his company out of the area.
But since the commission voted to keep the airport open, he said he has built a $2 million expansion and added jobs.
"Right now, I kind of feel betrayed," Cadwell said.
Port commissioners did not discuss Cadwell's request during the meeting.
Instead, they moved forward on appointing seven committee members to decide which firm to hire for the study.
The committee members are: pilot Ed Keenan, citizen representative; Ed Frost of Kennewick; Benton City Councilman Lynn Johnson; Kennewick City Councilman John Hubbard; Richland City Councilman Brad Anderson; West Richland City Councilman Brent Gerry; and Benton County Commissioner Leo Bowman.
The port has received five proposals, said Tim Arntzen, the port's executive director. Port staff will narrow the field to three, and the committee will decide which to recommend to commissioners.
The port is too far along in the process to halt the study, Port Commission President Skip Novakovich told the Herald.
Cadwell could have submitted a proposal to be the port's airport operator when the port was going through that process, but he didn't, Novakovich said.
Novakovich said he also was bothered by Cadwell's statements that he would not operate the airport on the port's terms. It's not in the best interest of all the port's citizens to put an operator at the airport regardless of what is best for the overall public.
"This is the time where the public is really going to find out the true cost of operating Vista Field and the true cost of maintaining it," Novakovich said.
And they will get the chance to decide what to do with the airport, including keeping it as is, investing in it or closing it and developing the property, he said.
"It's their money supporting Vista Field," Novakovich said.