The Augusta City Council authorized city staff to continue to work with Andover on a potential partnership to develop land around the Augusta Municipal Airport.
The problem is simple on the surface. The airport is in a great location with easy access to HWY 54/400 and I-35 after flying in. There are several businesses that would enjoy the location.
However, utilities are an issue at the airport due to the distance from the city of Augusta and the river in between the airport and the city. Getting utilities from Andover would be much easier and less expensive. That is where the idea for a partnership came from.
Deciding how that partnership will work has become the main hurdle. How will those initial expenses be paid? How are the future benefits shared?
Those questions may the complicate the idea of a partnership.
The City of Augusta and Augusta Progress Inc. paid to bring in Troy Carlson of Initiatives Inc. to do a study of the feasibility of an industrial park adjacent to the airport.
Representatives of both governing bodies, staffs and API all received a full report on that study at Andover City Hall last month.
Augusta was the first to take action to approve further work to develop the partnership with Andover. Andover’s council hasn’t considered the matter publicly since the meeting. However, Andover City Administrator Sasha Stiles said the topic would probably be on an agenda soon.
Andover has also decided not to contribute any funds to the study yet despite being asked to participate in the initial study.
“I would like Andover to pony up something,” Councilor Matt Malone said. “I think I would be more comfortable going forward if they had some skin in the game.”
Carlson told the group he could do a further study going deeper with the same people questioned before and expanding the research.
“I doubt that is something we could pursue due to the cost,” Augusta City Manager Bill Keefer said of the $67,000 price tag for the additional study. The initial study cost $20,000.
“It was probably left at this point intentionally,” said Councilor Sue Jones. “They are trying to force us into the next step.”
Councilor Mike Wallace made the motion to approve pursuing the partnership with Andover. Matt Childers seconded the motion which passed 6-0 with Holly Harper and Mike Huddleston absent.