Bar Harbor May Expand its Terminal

Hancock County officials will discuss next week a possible expansion of the terminal building at its airport to include offices for Transportation Safety Administration personnel.

"TSA has been looking for office space here at the airport and one option is a possible addition to the terminal building," airport manager Bob Cossette said Monday, admitting that the current space is cramped.

Cossette said the existing 3,200-square-foot building at the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport could be expanded by 600 to 1,200 square feet, but the manager was concerned about who would pay the estimated cost of more than $300,000 for the improvements.

"They treat this just like you would treat renting office space," he said of TSA. "Basically, we would front all the costs to build it and then they would lease the space."

TSA has not had offices at the airport in Trenton since the federal airport security agency formed in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001.

The coastal airport runs daily flights to Boston and services numerous charter planes and scenic flights, particularly in the summer months.

Cossette said the airport might look to expand its terminal building at some point, but he's not sure now is the time.

"There is no need to right now based on passenger needs," he said.

In fact, the airport is still trying to meet a federal threshold of 10,000 passengers for 2006 that would qualify the facility for a $1 million entitlement from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Cossette learned last month that the airport fell about 150 passengers shy of the requirement, and the airport manager said Monday that the number is still below 10,000.

The number could bump if charter operations come forward to report their passenger statistics, but they are not required by law to do so.

If the number stays below 10,000, the airport will receive only about $150,000 in federal money. In the past that money has been used for capital improvements, such as an overhaul of the airport's second runway last year.

That project cost more than $1.5 million, but Hancock County was responsible only for about 5 percent of the figure and that money came out of the airport's budget. The FAA picked up most of the tab.

As for the proposed addition to the terminal building, Cossette said next week's meeting with the Hancock County commissioners is just a starting point.

"Basically, we're going to talk about funding and see whether we want to proceed," Cossette said.

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