Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport Picks Designer for Restaurant

PITTSTON TWP. - A restaurant in the new airport terminal building moved a step closer to construction with the selection of Highland Associates Ltd. as designer of the project.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport's bi-county board of commissioners at Thursday's monthly board meeting agreed to pay the Clarks Summit firm no more than $137,460 for design services.

Board chairman and Luzerne County Commissioner Todd Vonderheid said private negotiations continue between the airport and its longtime restaurant operator Leo Vergnetti on a lease.

The airport board had decided to offer Vergnetti, of Scranton, the restaurant concession after contacting at least one other nationally known firm, Hudson Group of East Rutherford, N.J. Vergnetti's loyalty to the airport earned him the opportunity to operate in the new terminal expected to open next year, board members said.

The airport has estimated it will cost $1.2 million to build a restaurant/bar and a newsstand/gift shop and has asked Lackawanna and Luzerne counties to split the cost.

By contrast, Hudson Group offered to build a $1.5 million project with the airport contributing some funds.

The board also approved paying HNTB Pennsylvania Inc. an additional $99,825 for architectural and engineering services for the ongoing expansion and Acker Associates Inc. of Moscow $33,000 for a stormwater analysis and design of a retention pond to alleviate flooding in Avoca.

In other business, the airport reported a net loss of $14,809 for the month, compared to a net income of $96,208 for November 2004. For the first 11 months of the year net income was $545,856, a drop of $133,543 from the same period last year.

Mike Conner, assistant airport director, said the lower profit was mostly caused by expenses related to the more than $70 million project.

Passenger activity in November increased nearly 12 percent from a year ago. For the month, 18,382 people boarded planes compared to 16,445 in November 2004.

Year-to-date numbers through November were 204,296, an increase of 9.5 percent compared to the 186,648 figure for the same period in 2004.


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