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Airport faced with big FAA bill

Ben Godar

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

other funds.

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.