U.S. Will Fund Airport Study; Robertson Purchase is 'Moving Forward'

July 18, 2007
Town receives $116,850 federal government grant to further study buying Robertson Airport (CT)

The town has received a $116,850 grant from the federal government to further study buying Robertson Airport.

Town Manager Robert Lee announced the grant to the town council when it met Monday. He said the grant will pay for most of the study's $123,000 cost. The state along with the town must pay for what the federal government does not.

The council did not need to take any action on the matter on Monday and the study is expected to commence soon. It should be done by the end of December. That could put the council in the position of deciding whether the town should buy Robertson early next year.

``Things are moving forward,'' Lee said.

Robertson is the state's oldest airfield and so far there has been no opposition to the town's buying it. The airfield is owned by Tomasso Brothers Inc.

A preliminary study finished earlier this year showed buying Robertson could be a money maker for the town, if there is significant investment in the facility. Improvements recommended in the first study include improving and expanding hangars at the airport. One scenario outlined in the first report envisions the town making a profit of $140,000 on the airport's operations by 2018.

Tomasso has said it is interested in selling Robertson but it is not clear how much the deal would cost. The property's value has been estimated at between $3.5 million and $6.5 million.

Regardless of the purchase price, the actual cost to the town is expected to be very little. The Federal Aviation Administration is eager to have the town buy the airport and has promised to pay 95 percent of what it would cost to buy the property. The FAA is paying for the two studies and would also pay for capital improvements to the airport.

The FAA wants the town to buy Robertson so it will stay open, and the town must promise to keep it running to obtain the federal funding.

Contact Ken Byron at kbyron@courant.com