Interest Being Shown in Long-Desired Development

The Santa Maria Airport Business Park, a long-sought development at the Public Airport, is up for discussion when the Board of Directors meets today at 7:00 p.m.

The plan for the park, which began life decades ago as the Santa Maria Research Park, is attracting enough attention lately that the board will discuss forming an ad hoc committee to meet with interested business people, General Manager Chris Hastert said.

“We’re at a point where we need to start figuring out how we’re going to move forward with the business park,” Hastert said. “(A committee) allows us to have some division of the board and staff that can meet with businesses that are interested in coming here.”  The committee would consist of two members of the Board of Directors and staff, and would allow it to gauge interest of potential investors without violating the state’s open meetings law, or Brown Act.

The plan for the Research Park was approved in 1995 and updated, revised and renamed the Airport Business Park Specific Plan in 2008. It is a 20- to 30-year development for 740 of the airport’s 2,598 acres that would include light industrial, manufacturing and commercial businesses. Retail businesses, office development and an 18-hole golf course were also a part of the plan.

Hastert said he couldn’t identify any businesses that have contacted him, but added that forming a committee to meet with prospective tenants would be a good idea.  “There’s nobody who wants to go public because they’re looking at other opportunities throughout the city,” he said. “But we’re close enough that I think we should get some things going.”

Development of the park has been slowed to a salamander’s pace because of environmental concerns over endangered species found on the property. The Airport District is working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to get approval to develop the park.

Approximately 100 acres will be set aside for California Tiger Salamander habitat and nearly 70 percent of the property will be left as open space.

The board will also get a report on its 2012-13 independent financial audit, consider a contract with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to replace parking lot lighting, and award a pavement repair contract.

The pavement project will repair cracks in the terminal ramp and replace a section of taxiway.  Nine local companies provided bids that ranged from $93,273.08 to $169,738.10. T. Simmons Co. provided the low bid which was $19,000 less than the engineer’s estimate.

 

October 24, 2013  Brian Bullock/bbullock@santamariatimes.com