Life Flight Network will build a new $1 million hangar and crew quarters in its existing space at the Astoria Regional Airport after agreeing to a long-term lease with the Port of Astoria.
The Port Commission on Tuesday approved a 20-year lease with Life Flight, a helicopter medevac service that has been operating for more than three years out of a trailer and nearby rented hangar space. The lease includes four five-year extension options, locking in Life Flight for up to 40 years.
Life Flight’s new lease is expected to generate $19,000 a year for the Port. The service also accounts for 10 percent of jet fuel sales at the airport and will be obligated to buy it at $1.30 per gallon, earning the Port another $13,000 annually. Combined with the added revenue from freeing up the executive hangar Life Flight leases, the Port expects to make $32,000 annually from the agreement.
Since voters rejected a bond measure in May 2017 to fund Life Flight’s relocation, the Port has been negotiating with the service on a new spot. Life Flight received a $665,000 ConnectOregon state infrastructure grant that, along with its $285,000 match, will pay for the construction of the hangar.
The two sides settled on Life Flight’s existing location near the airport terminal building. The location was not the preferred site during the debate over the bond measure because of potential traffic and noise conflicts with nearby aviators, the Coast Guard’s Air Station Astoria and the Columbia River Bar Pilots.
Gary Kobes, the airport manager for the Port, said reaching a final solution meant the Port agreed to take on responsibility if there are any environmental issues that pop up during construction. So far, only light contamination on a small section of soil has been found, he said.
Jim Knight, the Port’s executive director, said the agency still needs to make several changes to nearby leases before finalizing the lease with Life Flight, such as moving a nearby storage area for Reser’s Fine Foods.
The Port Commission also voted Tuesday to accept a $300,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration that will pay the agency back for $266,220 it spent on 1.5 acres of wetland mitigation credits from Warrenton Fiber at the headwaters of the John Day River to offset the environmental impacts of a taxiway relocation.