County sets up runway for Airglades takeoff

LABELLE — The Hendry County Board of Commissioners approved several changes in the plans for Airglades airport to pave the runway for work to begin in earnest after Monday’s scheduled groundbreaking.

Not literally the runway, not yet … but that is on the radar. AIA’s CEO Fred Ford intends to build a new one over a mile long.
The alterations are:

• A second change order to the county’s and Airglades International Airport LLC’s agreement for preliminary engineering and design services for the Perishable Air Cargo Center (PACC), with Crawford, Murphy & Tilly of Springfield, Ill. “The changes were adjustments to the individual tasks to better reflect the actual work needed on each task. No additional days were added to the contract time,” the report from Public Works Director R. Shane Parker stated. It just redistributed financing for various jobs; the contract price of $959,913 does not change. The project is financed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the county and AIA.

• Approval of a license agreement with the corporation for placement of trailers to serve as a temporary terminal while the existing one undergoes renovations, according to the staff report from County Attorney Mark Lapp. AIA was facing a deadline from U.S. Customs to open a port-of-entry office at the terminal, so AIA will put two office trailers for up to a year. When renovations start, the county will consider a new lease agreement with AIA for the existing terminal and the new one to be constructed nearby.

• Finally, a revised draft of the final purchase and sale agreement with AIA for Airglades. It acknowledges the FAA’s and FDOT’s formal decisions last fall to consent to the sale of the property — which is owned by Hendry County taxpayers — to the corporation. It also changes the closing date on this first-ever conversion of a public airport to a private one in U.S. history, to no later than Oct. 17 of this year. That is the deadline that the FAA has established. A clause was removed that would have let the deadline be extended by the FAA multiple times, possibly for years.

Attorney Lapp specified that this board approval was not to execute the agreement at last, but to simply sign a letter to AIA approving the terms and conditions in this hoped-for final version of the complex accord. He wrote that the letter is “expressing a commitment, with conditions, to, at a future date, execute the purchase and sale agreement.”

The legal agreement is so bulky — with assignments, conditions, covenants, declarations, disclosures, encumbrances, exceptions, exhibits, existing leases, options, private and governmental agreements, requirements, restrictions, schedules and stipulations — that it’s 160 pages long. The list of leases alone takes up three pages and has about two dozen entries.

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