Turbulence at Louisa’s airport

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 9:00 am

The Louisa County Board of Supervisor attempted an operational takeover of Louisa County Airport.  Photo by Paula Hawthorne

The Louisa County Board of Supervisor attempted an operational takeover of Louisa County Airport.
Photo by Paula Hawthorne

A suggestion by county supervisors that they take over the Louisa Airport never got off the ground.

Members of the Louisa County Industrial Development Authority saw red when they received an August 8 letter from Willie Gentry, chairman of the board of supervisors, expressing concerns whether the IDA’s dual role as both airport manager and economic development driver are in the best interest of the county.

“To this end, it is the intent of the board of supervisors to position airport operations within the county’s management structure,” Gentry wrote.

It has been suggested that some board members were angry that they were unaware of the IDA’s purchase of 807 acres between Chopping and Chalk Level roads until an article about it appeared in The Central Virginian’s August 7 issue.

No money exchanged hands between the IDA and Rail Park LLC, which sold the land. The agreement between the IDA and the seller allows the authority to pay for the land at a cost of $9,000 per acre at the time that parcels are sold over the next 20 years.

Gentry denied that communication issues had anything to do with the supervisors’ decision to send the letter, indicating that it has been a subject of consideration for some time. The chairman also said the letter was not intended as a “letter of action” but to encourage discussion between the two bodies on the airport operation subject.

Backing Gentry’s comments, County Attorney Michael Lockaby said Tuesday that the county has had concerns for some time from both a legal and policy angle and recently decided to take  a closer look into the situation.

“The job of an IDA is to develop and finance.  It’s not particularly well suited to operate an airport or anything else,” Lockaby said of the entity that has operated the airport for more than three decades.  “It simply doesn’t have the powers to do it.”

To read the entire story, see the Aug. 21 edition of The Central Virginian.

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