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Allentown's offer for land near airport under scrutiny

Allentown mayor, Ed Pawlowski, has made an offer to the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA) to purchase an eight acre parcel of land near the Queen City Airport.

The airport is located on Lehigh Street, two miles southwest of Allentown, and is under the control of the LNAA, which will consider the mayor’s proposal at its June 20 executive committee meeting.

The parcel of land contains a hangar that the city of Allentown leased, starting in 2000, as a storage facility for its Streets Maintenance Department. The hangar currently costs the city $93,000, is scheduled to increase to $109,000 in October, and could eventually reach $124,000 a month by the end of the three year lease that was signed earlier this year.

Pawloski is seeking to buy this land for $1 million, which is up from the $750,000 he offered last year. The price tag, if accepted, would represent tremendous saving versus the cost of continuing to lease.

The city would purchase the land with funds raised from the sale of 20 year bonds, and if their offer is rejected, they could look for a new facility within six months.

Although the Allentown mayor states that the new offer is a win-win situation for both the city and the airport authority--LNAA is financially cash strapped and looking to raise money to pay off a $26 million judgment.

However, opponents of the sale, like the Lehigh Valley General Aviation Association (LVGAA) view it differently. In fact, LVGAA President Michael Rosenfeld sees this offer as another way to put pressure on the local airport authority, halt area aviation development, and eventually convince the executive board to sell the airport, entirely.

Since being elected to the LNAA board three years ago, Pawloski has advocated selling to a private developer, while Rosenfeld believes that the airport, if sold, should still be used for aviation purposes.

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