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Forks Township airport might have a buyer in Lafayette College

By , - Last modified: April 22, 2013 at 11:08 AM

The Rockefeller Group, a New York developer looking to buy property surrounding Lehigh Valley International Airport in Hanover Township has no interest in buying Braden Airpark in Forks Township.

However, Lafayette College might be interested.

In an email, Robert Massa, vice president for communications at Lafayette College of Easton, said the college discussed the property.

"Because the property is adjacent to Lafayette's athletic fields, the college has had some initial internal discussion about the feasibility of purchasing the property, but the discussions have not proceeded beyond the early stage, and no decision has been made," Massa said. "Beyond that, there is really nothing to report at this point."

According to Erik Chuss, chairman of the board of supervisors for Forks Township, officials from Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority told him at a recent meeting with the Business and Commerce Association of Forks Township that the authority was in discussions with Lafayette College about Braden Airpark. The authority owns the airpark as well as Lehigh Valley International Airport.

Charles Everett, executive director for the authority, said Braden Airpark creates about $200,000 in annual debt service. Braden's primary revenue stream is the $56,000 annual fee from Moyer Aviation, a business that has terminated its lease at the airport effective at the end of this month.

Chuss said he did not know how that debt figure was determined and described it as excessive.

Everett confirmed that there have been discussions between the authority and the college regarding the property.

"The authority and Lafayette College have benefited from an ongoing dialogue," he said.

He declined to discuss anything further regarding the communication between the two groups.

Everett said the authority would meet with Forks Township officials before any decision regarding the airport is made.

As a pilot and plane owner and township official who served in voluntary, appointed and elected positions, Chuss said he understands the value the airport brings to the community.

"They are not looking at indirect revenues it brings into the area as well as intangible benefits such as retaining and attracting businesses," Chuss said. "As far as what's next, they don't know, so it's obvious they are looking into the possibility of selling Braden."

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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