The ownership of the Fitchburg Municipal Airport's restaurant could change in the near future as the city is opening the space to a public bidding process.
Gene's Airport Restaurant is a non-aviation part of the airport and therefore is subject to public bidding process, according to the airport's manager, Fred Guertin. City officials have decided its operation needs to be awarded to the highest bidder in order to comply with state law, Guertin said.
"We don't want Gene and those guys to go away, but we do want the maximum value for this," Guertin said at Tuesday evening's Airport Commission meeting. "This airport can't lose on this."
Commissioner Susan Beauregard disputed that outlook, however. She said a temporary closure resulting from an ownership change could discourage visiting pilots from landing in the city.
"We could see a big fall-off here," she said. "I'm really worried."
Most commissioners said they hope ownership does not change.
Also Tuesday evening, commissioners discovered some discrepancies in its lease documents with companies operating at the airport.
Co-Op Hangars has a lease agreement with the airport for 17,000 square feet of space, but is only using and paying for 8,000 square feet, according to Guertin. The company's building also does not exactly follow the originally approved plans, he added.
Liebfried Aviation, meanwhile, leases 190,000 square feet of space at the airport, but occupies 212,000 square feet, according to an engineering plan, Guertin said.
"It's part of the footprint, it's part of the lease, it's part of chargeable property," Commissioner John Godek said, recommending the city's attorney look at the leases to see if they can be amended.
Commissioners also unanimously approved a deal to lease more space for parking to owners of the office complex at 100 Erdman Way in Leominster.
The owners will add about 30 more spaces at the start of next year for a total of 65. That will approximately double the airport's lease revenue from those spaces to about $6,000, according to Tim Norton, the president of Apex Properties, who represented the developers.
The company also has an option to add 51 more spaces at any point during the lease, Norton said.
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The airport's agreement with its current consultant, Gale Associates Inc., has expired and it must submit grant applications to the FAA by May 1.
They're also hoping that consultant will submit applications for federal grants by May 1, which is in less than a week.
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The airport hopes to double its lease revenue from Innovation Green, a mixed-use development of offices, including a hotel and restaurant being planned for airport property.