Hazleton City Council approved an amended lease agreement with the state Department of General Services that will keep a Pennsylvania State Police aviation unit at Hazleton Regional Airport through May 2017, a city official said.
The one-year lease extension will generate about $82,000 in revenue for Hazleton’s airport fund and contains optional extensions should state police need more time to follow through with plans for moving into a new facility near Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, said Dominic Yannuzzi, an engineer who helped broker the lease extension for the city.
“They’ll still be in Hazleton for at least another year until they leave,” Yannuzzi said of the aviation unit. “State police have an option to renew as needed until their hangar (in Avoca) is finished.”
Council members in Hazleton approved the lease extension about a week after a bi-county airport board approved another lease agreement that will move the state police helicopter to a hangar within a mile of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport.
The helicopter has been stationed at Hazleton Regional Airport for at least four decades. The hangar lease for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport was approved in January, but airport Executive Director Carl Beardsley Jr. said Wednesday there’s no time line available at this point for moving the aviation unit.
“Based on the information we are receiving from the developer of the hangar, the building is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016,” Beardsley said Wednesday in an email to the Standard-Speaker.
The lease extension approved by Hazleton City Council increases rent by about 10 percent from rates charged in 2015, Yannuzzi said.
It is effective May 1 through May 1, 2017 and contains a series of optional, three-month extensions with escalating base rental fees.
Rates increase by about 5 percent every six months after the initial term expires, Yannuzzi said.
The city purchased the hangar from the City of Philadelphia, which is listed as trustee under the will of Stephen Girard, Yannuzzi said. Grants were used to cover most of the costs and revenue from hangar leases covered the balance, he said.
Before the city purchased the hangar, it received $1,609 in lease revenue from the facility, the engineer said..
The renegotiated terms are part of an overall effort to boost airport fund revenue and improve facilities at the local airport, Yannuzzi said.
“Basically, due to all the negotiations, we increased the revenue for that hangar over 50 times than what the city was bringing in before,” he said. “It’s another step for the airport’s self-sufficiency.”