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Last updated: February 20. 2013 4:30AM - 1469 Views

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PITTSTON TWP. ‚?? Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey D. O‚?? Brien calls it ‚??an eyesore‚?Ě and hopes the old, now unoccupied terminal at The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport will be razed by year‚??s end.


Airport officials agreed, but before the 57-year-old structure is demolished, steps need to be taken. Funding for what could be a multimillion-dollar endeavor tops that list.


A demolition company official is expected at the airport next week to walk through the 80,000-square-foot building and determine how much it would cost to raze it. Airport Director Barry J. Centini said environmental issues, including asbestos, need to be identified; salvageable material could be sold.


Then the airport will look for grant funding. An annual capital budget that is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in July is one possible source, as the airport is eligible to apply for funding, he said. Asking the Federal Aviation Administration for funding also is on the table, although Centini said that option is unlikely as the FAA already has indicated it would not make funds available for demolition.


The former terminal was largely vacated when most of its operations moved into a new $41.3 million terminal that opened on May 25, 2006. The FAA continued to operate its control tower out of the building until last year and still paid rent on office use through this month.


Airport Assistant Director Michael Conner said portions of the two story-building, which has a basement and a third level that housed the tower, are heated, though it‚??s used only for records storage. Some items, including aluminum ceiling panels and brass fixtures, have been removed and sold, he said.


O‚??Brien, who on Thursday was elected vice chairman of the airport board after serving as chairman the year before, said he believes the structure gives the wrong first impression to air travelers visiting the region.


Centini declined this week to estimate the cost of razing the building, but in 2009, he said he expected it would require $1.8 million.


As for how the site could be reused, Centini said he wasn‚??t sure, but a stockpile for plowed snow from the runways and roads would be an option in winter. He does not foresee it being used as a parking area or a retail outlet because it‚??s too close to the existing runways.


In other business at the board meeting:


‚?Ę Luzerne County Council Chairman Tim McGinley was elected chairman of the airport board by a unanimous vote.


‚?Ę The board awarded a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning maintenance and service contract to Scranton Electric and Heating, of Scranton, which was the low bidder. The company will be paid $81,285 for its service.


‚?Ę L.R. Kimball, the engineering firm hired to manage the Hangar Road rehabilitation project, was approved for an increase to its contract of $56,359. It will now be paid $435,900 for its services.


Its original contract called for $211,109. But a myriad of issues caused delays to the work, mainly weather delays caused by the 2011 flooding and repairing damaged utility lines, rerouting utility lines or installing new lines. Construction work is being done by Scartelli Construction Services of Taylor.


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