A private citizen vying with the Port of Coupeville for ownership of the A.J. Eisenberg Airport is not deterred from his pursuit by the port’s recent moves to obtain the right of first refusal on the property.
Robert DeLaurentis, a general aviation pilot and global peace advocate, confirmed in an interview that he still has the airport in escrow and is on track to close at the beginning of May.
DeLaurentis was unconcerned about the Port of Coupeville’s recent motion to receive an assignment of Whidbey Island resident Geri Morgan’s right of first refusal. According to DeLaurentis, multiple people he has spoken to who are familiar with the airport have said that the right of first refusal went away when Harbor Air went bankrupt in 2001. Many lien holders attempted to claim ownership of the airport at that time, until Air International, a limited liability corporation owned in part by Joel Eisenberg, purchased the airport’s debts and Eisenberg launched a decade-long legal battle for ownership of the airport.
Morgan declined last week to share details about her right or her agreement with the Port of Coupeville.
DeLaurentis said his Phase 2 feasibility study is partly completed. He described his quest to purchase and rehabilitate the airport as his “passion project.”
“I’m passionate about aviation, I’m passionate about flying my planes, and I’m passionate about making my home a better place,” he said.
While some advocates for public ownership of the airport have noted that private ownership is what led to the airport’s current neglected state, DeLaurentis encouraged people to look at his track record and remember that he is not the past owner.
DeLaurentis said he accumulated nearly 100 sponsors for a global flight he embarked upon, and many of those partners are willing to work with him again on this new project. He said he has bids lined up already to begin repair and maintenance projects on the property.
“We’ve been on track doing our thing exactly as we said since day one,” he said.