April 05, 2020

$15,000 Northern Aroostook Regional Airport grant to study development

FRENCHVILLE – The owner communities of Northern Aroostook Regional Airport have acquired a grant to look at the feasibility of economic development at the airport, and into the possibility of creating a tax revenue sharing district.

The $15,000 grant through the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Local and Regional Services is available to encourage and support intergovernmental cooperation to reduce taxes.

The local match from the airport is $5,000.

The grant, awarded to St. Agatha on behalf of the five towns that own the airport, will look into the feasibility of constructing hangars and other support structures at the recently renovated airport.

Ryan Pelletier, town manager at St. Agatha, said there has even been talk of developing a restaurant and a hotel near the airport, which is located entirely in Frenchville.

The airport is owned by the towns of Frenchville, Fort Kent, St. Agatha, Madawaska and St. John Plantation.

The tax revenue sharing proposal, if created and approved, would allow property taxes from the enhancements to be shared among owner towns, instead of just Frenchville where the facility is physically located.

“We are talking of private investments,” Pelletier said Tuesday. “This is not right now, but down the road.

“It’s an effort to encourage economic development in the area,” he said. “First we need a business plan to see if this is even feasible.”

The idea behind the grant surfaced in early September when the airport held an open house for a new charter service at the facility. It was also a day to showcase more than $1 million in work done at the facility this year.

Before the open house, town officials had met with Jack Cashman, commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. At the open house, the towns were encouraged by Gov. John Baldacci to seek funds for a study of their plans.

“We jumped at the offer,” Pelletier said. “Now we have $15,000 for the study.”

St. Agatha’s application was the only one from Aroostook County funded in the latest round of grants. Fourteen applications were funded statewide.

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