Port to mull airport funding options

The Port of Coupeville continues taking steps to secure ownership of the A.J. Eisenberg Airport.

The Port of Coupeville continues taking steps to secure ownership of the A.J. Eisenberg Airport, though it has yet to nail down one important component: the funds to make the purchase.

Port commissioners will likely discuss their options at an upcoming public meeting April 26 while determining their priorities for the 60-day “due diligence” period they recently entered, according to port Executive Director Chris Michalopoulos.

Since late 2021, the agency’s plan to buy the airport on Monroe Landing Road in Oak Harbor has been to have Island County supply the funds. Island County commissioners agreed during a work session Wednesday to open the county Rural Economic Development Fund to applications, but even if they approve the port’s application for funds to purchase the airport, that money will not be available to the port until after its deadline at the beginning of June.

Michalopoulos said in an interview that even without guaranteed or readily available county funds, there are still multiple avenues available to the port to make its purchase. Though he declined to go into detail about what those options might be, saying that the port commissioners will have to make that decision themselves, he did say that the port has a line of credit available to it that could be drawn upon.

The port still intends to apply for Rural Economic Development Funds for the purchase, Michalopoulos said.

The port’s Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment is currently underway. Port commissioners unanimously approved a $5,500 contract with Stantec Consulting Services Inc. for the assessment at their last meeting April 12. This, along with a Phase 2 Assessment and finalizing the source of the purchase funds, will likely emerge as the top priorities for the due diligence period, which ends in early June.

At the same meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Oak Harbor, which the city council approved at an earlier date. Under the interlocal agreement, the city will supply the port with up to $200,000 for costs related to the airport, such as maintenance, studies and the creation of a comprehensive plan, after the port has already purchased the airport.

The Oak Harbor City Council did not pass the agreement the first time it appeared on the agency’s agenda, opting to wait until it could hear from the port about its plans in greater detail. At a subsequent meeting, the port shared its vision for the airport, and several members of the public attended to voice their support for the agreement and the port’s plan during the public comment period of the meeting.

Those who want to attend the April 26 port meeting can go in person at the Jim Davis House, located at 765 Wonn Road in Greenbank, or watch virtually by visiting portoc.org and selecting “Agendas, Minutes and Documents” under the “Meetings and Documents” tab. The link and access credentials for the online meeting are included in the meeting agenda.