The subject of airplanes and bringing more business to the county’s Civil Air Terminal was the major subject of Tuesday night’s Kent County Levy Court session.
County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange advised commissioners he and others have been part of a working group that for the past 12 months has worked on plans to expand the terminal at Dover Air Force Base. The terminal is adjacent to the Kent County Aeropark on Horsepond Road, and uses base runways under a joint agreement with the Air Force.
The Aeropark is a 115-acre, county-owned industrial area being marketed to firms that would need access to airport facilities.
The commissioners discussed proposals to combine four separate parcels of land totaling 13.2 acres so the single parcel could be used to park large, cargo-carrying aircraft. The land would be deeded to the state of Delaware as the county’s part in the improvements at the Aeropark.
As envisioned, the expanded facility could service up to four 747 aircraft at one time, as well as smaller planes. The area also is used periodically when people fly in for NASCAR races and similar events and to park civilian contract cargo aircraft away from military facilities.
The four parcels have been appraised at $400,000, or $30,349 per acre.
Commissioners were told potential stakeholders would be more inclined to invest in the Aeropark if it were marketed as a single facility.
The deed transfer would not occur until a formal agreement with a contractor has been reached, said Jeff Stone of the Delaware Economic Development Office. If the deal falls through, the land would be returned to county ownership. The working group hopes to have a contract within the next 18 to 24 months, he said.
“We know it’s a big investment, and we recognize we don’t need to see it until the proposal comes through,” he said. “But we need to be ready.”
After additional discussion, commissioners put the proposal on the agenda for their Aug. 20 business meeting. A favorable vote there would approve the proposal.
Levy Court President Brooks Banta called the idea a “win-win for Kent County.”
“It’s a $400,000 investment for the future of our county,” he said. “It is the right thing to do.”