AIRPORT DISTRICT -- As Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport Authority
commissioners hashed through items during their closed- session
meeting Monday, a fax was handed to them -- sent by Federal Aviation
Administration Administrator Marion Blakey -- asking for repayment of
about $40 million in grants earmarked for a new terminal.
The federal agency does not want the money tied up when “there’s
no clear indication that a terminal project is forthcoming,” and
asked that a plan to return the funds be submitted within 30 days,
Airport Authority President Chris Holden said.
The Airport Authority must have the plan to the FAA by June 4.
The FAA had previously set a 60-day deadline for repaying the
money or coming up with a plan to build a new terminal. Airport
officials responded April 21 by asking for an extension, which
Monday’s letter gives them.
The airport could draw some money from its reserve fund to repay
the FAA, Burbank Airport Commissioner Don Brown said. That fund is
projected to drop to $38 million in the coming fiscal year, almost
50% less than its previous balance of $71 million. Some of the
federal money might not have to be returned if it was used for
eligible improvements, Brown said.
The airport spent its own money and the FAA’s grant money in 1999
to buy the 130-acre former Lockheed B-6 property for $86 million. It
had planned to move the terminal there.
Other possibilities for a repayment plan include selling or
leasing the B-6 land, but commissioners said they need time to
consider their options.
“Built into that letter are a whole lot of questions that we have
not had a chance to address ... [including] how much of a repayment
we could live with without depleting all of the reserves of the
airport,” Glendale Airport Commissioner Gerald Briggs said.
Years of disagreement and litigation between the city and the
airport have stalled construction of a new facility, primarily based
on local demands to control noise by restricting growth. While the
city had hoped to tie a new terminal to a mandatory overnight curfew,
the FAA said it will not link the two.
“As you know, the FAA supports the goal of relocating the
terminal,” Blakey wrote in her letter. “Should the Airport Authority
receive all necessary local approvals for a new terminal and develop
a firm construction timetable, the FAA is prepared to discuss future
[grant] support for the project.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) was among legislators and local
officials who met with Blakey in Washington, D.C., to ask the FAA for
direction with the development of the airport.
“Whatever incentive the FAA may have [had] to provide noise
restrictions ... I think that the leverage is unquestionably
diminished,” Schiff said of Blakey’s letter.
City Manager Mary Alvord agreed that the prospect of losing the
best-possible site for a new terminal means the city is also losing
its best bargaining chip for a curfew.
The Airport Authority will hold a special public meeting at 9 a.m.
Monday at the airport’s Skyroom to discuss how it will respond to the