News

Airport destined for sale by auction

Kenmore Air runs a commercial air service from Oak Harbor Airport while lawsuits run their course in court. -
Kenmore Air runs a commercial air service from Oak Harbor Airport while lawsuits run their course in court.
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The future of the Oak Harbor Airport is still up in the air as two dueling auctions are scheduled for the property.

It’s been seven years since the Gig Harbor-based Harbor Air abruptly ceased operations at the airport after falling into financial trouble. The company, owned by Rick Boehlke, controlled the property and flew commercial flights from the airport on Monroe Landing Road.

The airport was scheduled for auction in 2001 after Harbor Air stopped paying the mortgage, but a limited liability corporation called Air International swooped in to purchased the debt. The LLC is owned, at least in part, by Joel Eisenberg, the CEO of Seattle’s International Telecom, Ltd. and a pioneer of phone sex in the 1980s, according to Wired magazine.

That was followed by years of legal wrangling over the airport involving a multitude of parties.

“There were a lot of questionable loans,” said Brooke Barnes of Lonesome Polecat LLC.

Eisenberg started the proliferation of litigation by filing a lawsuit against Barnes. Barnes countered by filing a complaint for damages, injunction and appointment of receiver in Island County Superior Court against Air International and Eisenberg. After all these years, Barnes said the legal issues still haven’t been sorted out, to his dismay.

“This has taken longer than World War II,” he said. “This thing has taken so many twists and turns.”

Barnes said he owns the first position debt of the property, as well as the sixth. Last month, he filed a notice of a trustee sale to recoup his money. He wants to collect a total of $793,345, which includes the $95,562 principal, $63,224 in interest, $368,143 in late fees, $198,000 in previous foreclosure fees, $64,500 in attorney fees and other expenses.

Unless the debt is paid, the 43-acre property will be sold at public auction July 18.

But first, a sheriff’s auction is scheduled for the property at 10 a.m., June 13, at the entry of the Island County Law and Justice Center in Coupeville. The Superior Court directed the sale to satisfy a judgement in the case of Air International vs. Oak Harbor Airlines, according to a legal notice in today’s Whidbey News-Times.

The debtors in the case can avoid the sale by paying the judgement of $902,000, plus interest and fees, to Air International. Barnes said this is the second position debt.

The county set the market value of the property at around $640,000.

All the litigation hasn’t prevented air service out of Oak Harbor Airport, which is also known as the Wes Lupien Airport. Seattle-based Kenmore Air runs regular flights from Oak Harbor to Boeing Field, with a quick van ride to Seatac Airport.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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