PIE&G wants Onaway airport for free

ROGERS CITY — Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-op would like Presque Isle County to give the company the Leo E. Goetz Airport in Onaway so it can build a new, $15 million to $20 million headquarters and service center.

If the county gave the property to the utility for free, PIE&G would pay the costs required to execute the transfer of the property and pay for a site survey to determine if the property is suitable for its needs.

County commissioners said during a workshop on Thursday they would like a little more time to think over the proposal. County board Chairman Lee Gapczynski recommended waiting until the board’s next meeting at 9:30 a.m. June 28 before making any decisions.

The board decided in April that, instead of having the property appraised for a potential sale, it would accept proposals from individuals or companies willing to buy the airport.

The proposal from PIE&G was the only one the county received.

PIE&G is looking to replace its headquarters, currently located in Allis Township.

The airport is one of two locations it’s considering, according to the proposal the utility sent to the county.

The other option would be to build a new facility at its existing location at 19831 M-68 Highway.

The company’s plan calls for the construction of about 32,000 square feet of office space and about 138,000 square feet of garage and warehouse space.

The proposal said PIE&G is in the process of negotiating a contract with a construction manager and officials anticipate the design process will be completed in the fall.

The company expects construction to begin early next year.

PIE&G submitted the proposal to the county with three conditions: That the site survey shows the property will work for the new headquarters, that the conditional transfer of the property takes place by Aug. 1, and that the company also acquire properties adjacent to the airport currently owned by the county’s economic development corporation.

The proposal did not indicate whether PIE&G intended to pay for the adjacent properties.

Commissioner John Chappa said he could see PIE&G getting the property for a dollar, but wouldn’t be in favor of the co-op getting any tax breaks.

“I guess, if we’re going to give it away, that would be my stipulation,” he said.

County Clerk Ann Marie Main told commissioners they could put restrictions on the sale of the property if they wanted to.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.