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Published: Friday, 6/29/2007

Port to hire consultant to aid airport

Along with authorizing a sub-lease for a proposed ethanol refinery at the Port of Toledo, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's board of directors yesterday approved numerous other resolutions, including the hiring of a consultant to boost its efforts to attract new or expanded air service at Toledo Express Airport.

Sixler Consulting Group Inc., of Eugene, Ore., is to be paid up to $2 for each passenger who boards a new flight whose introduction is at least partially a result of the consultant's work, Airport Director Eric Frankl told the port board yesterday.

Payment will vary depending on the consultant's role in attracting new or expanded service, he said, with standards laid out in its contract. Such payment would continue for two years after new or expanded service begins.

Each traveler at Toledo Express Airport generates between $5 and $6.50 in direct revenue to the port authority and as much as $12 in eligibility for federal capital grants, Mr. Frankl said.

Toledo Express is in a slump, brought on by airline service cuts, that has reduced its passenger business by nearly half since 2004.

In other business, the port board passed preliminary resolutions associated with bond issues for a waste-treatment system at a Williams County dairy and for buying most of the former Gulf Oil refinery site in East Toledo, and agreed to sell or give about 79 acres near Toledo Express to the Toledo Area Metroparks.

The port authority is considering buying 181 acres along Front Street from Chevron Corp., which acquired Gulf in 1984, two years after Gulf closed its Toledo refinery.

The land, expected to cost about $6.1 million, would become a site for expanded dock and warehousing operations by Midwest Terminals of Toledo Inc.

Buildings and other improvements bring the total expected cost to $8 million, which would be repaid by Midwest lease payments.

Bridgewater Dairy, an existing dairy with more than 3,000 cows near Montpelier, Ohio, has requested port authority financing for a $2.5 million anaerobic digester to process manure.

Methane from the digester would be burned to generate electricity, while solids would be processed into fertilizer.

Bond inducement resolutions the port board passed yesterday for both proposals represent the first of two steps. The board still must approve bond issuance resolutions, which are scheduled to be on the agenda of its July 26 meeting.

Of the land near the airport going to the metroparks, about 25 acres on Garden Road and Mescher Drive was purchased as part of the port authority's campaign to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on nearby residences, while 54 acres on Geiser Road was acquired to be converted into wetlands as a substitute for wetlands consumed by airport construction projects.

The metroparks will pay the port authority $7,500 an acre for the Garden and Mescher land.

The Geiser land will be conveyed in exchange for the district's assistance with additional wetlands replacement that will be required for an upcoming airport project.

The port authority acquired all the land using federal grants that covered 90 percent of the cost.

- David Patch



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