The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority learned Tuesday it
must reimburse the Federal Aviation Administration for 55 of 139
acres of land purchased with federal grants for a terminal that has
not been built.
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, in a letter to airport officials,
said the airport “can retain” 84 acres of land, 62 acres of which
must be used as a noise buffer. However, Blakey said the Airport
Authority “has not justified keeping the remaining 55 acres under
the standards of the grant assurances.”
Airport Authority Executive Director Dios Marrero could not be
reached for comment Tuesday, but released in a prepared statement
that he was “disappointed” the authority’s proposal was not accepted.
The airport authority accepted more than $46 million in federal
grants to help purchase the land on the northeast side of the
airport’s property, for use in construction of a proposed terminal.
On May 2, Blakey sent a letter to airport officials demanding the
money be repaid since no terminal had been built.
Airport officials responded with a proposal to use the land for
various airport and security functions, including as a noise buffer
and for relocation of the Burbank and Glendale National Guard
Airport officials must pay the FAA the pro rata share of the money
based on the federal share of the original cost, but airport
officials have the option to keep the land and repay the agency with
Airport spokesman Victor Gill said officials have not determined
whether they will sell the 55 acres of land the FAA is seeking
payment for which Marrero said the authority would discuss its
options at its July 7 meeting.
The land was purchased as part of a 130-acre plot in 1999 for
$86 million, but Gill said he had no estimate of its current value.
If the authority chooses to sell the land, he said it could take a
couple of years before the sales are complete.
“These are big parcels of land,” he said. “If it comes up for
sale, it could be a very lengthy process.”
Burbank Airport commissioners Bill Wiggins, Charles Lombardo and
Don Brown could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Glendale
Commissioner Gerald Briggs declined to comment because he had not
seen the FAA letter.
An FAA spokesman declined to comment beyond the information
contained in the letter.