Airport building needs 'major rehab'
by Leslie Dixon, staff writer Sun Journal Jan. 3, 2017
OXFORD — County Administrator Scott Cole said significant heating, plumbing and roof problems must be addressed as the county prepares a plan to re-utilize the Oxford County Regional Airport.
“The building itself needs major rehabilitation following the Oxford Aviation years,” Cole said last week of the facility that was constructed from 1969-70.
Oxford Aviation, founded in 1989 by Casco resident Jim Horowitz, leased space in the airport building on Number Six Road behind Oxford Plains Dragway before filing for bankruptcy several years ago and leaving the building empty.
The company and its 60 or so employees painted, refurbished and repaired small- and medium-sized aircraft from across the country.
Despite a renegotiation of the lease in 2010 with Oxford Aviation that made the company responsible for all building maintenance in lieu of rent, Cole said Oxford Aviation never met its end of the bargain. The pipes froze and the company abandoned the building.
In 2016, contents of the building were auctioned off and the building was leased to a new tenant, Ben Mosher of Oxford, a licensed aviation mechanic.
Cole said Mosher is now the sole tenant in the building and that he pays no rent, but covers his own heat and utilities. He has also made some repairs at his own expense to one area of the building, making it more functional. Although he currently works under a “gentleman's agreement," Cole said that agreement will be formalized soon.
Cole said some electrical work and repairs to the hangar door occurred in 2016 following the March auction, but not much else has been done on the building.
The airport remains open as a “no-frills, self-serve, operational facility in compliance with FAA regulations,” Cole said. Since July, the county has been selling several hundred gallons of fuel per month to aviators who use the runways.
Similar to other pay-at-the-pump style fueling stations, the system is self-serve and credit-card activated. The current price is $4.50 per gallon of 100 octane AVGAS.
Cole said the county is currently updating its Master Plan with a federal grant and officials hope to have a better sense of where things are going with the building after that process is completed, which should be sometime in 2017, Cole said.
Cole said he has informally compiled some comparative data from other area airports.
“Based on those findings and our own realities, I intend to soon propose some sort of plan to the commissioners for improving oversight at the facility and with the goal of making something happen there,” he said.