Goliad County offered more than $4 million for airpark

Aug. 9, 2010 at 3:09 a.m.

GOLIAD - The Goliad County Commissioners Court heard a proposal Tuesday that offered to purchase the Goliad Airpark from the county for $4.36 million.

A San Antonio engineering company, Wehman and Associates, presented the proposal on behalf of the would-be purchaser, Truehanderschaft Schlusstein - a family trust operated out of the western European country of Liechtenstein.

The $4.36 million offer is well above the $2.9 million at which the airpark was appraised last year, according to commissioner Jerry Rodriguez.

Victor W. R. Wehman Jr., who presented the proposal to the court, said he evaluated the property and thought it was worth more than the appraisal.

"We want a long-term, positive relationship with the county," Wehman said to the court. "So we didn't want to pinch pennies."

The proposal describes the facility as a "high-security, commercial corporate industrial airport." Several types of aircraft, including cargo and passenger planes, helicopters and new aircraft under research, would operate on and be repaired at the airport.

The proposal also draws out a plan for the construction of 2.4 million square feet of temporary buildings, including aircraft hangars and maintenance facilities, freezer storage, warehouses and immigration and custom inspections buildings.

All facilities would be taxable by the county and would use local energy and water sources.

Nine months after the possible purchase, the trust intends to employ between 80 to 300 skilled and unskilled workers.

Within 24 to 36 months, they could employ between 400 and 2,000 people, according to the proposal.

"It's tremendous," Rodriguez said after the public hearing. "I think it will help the economy and could be one of Goliad's biggest employers."

Citizens and officials expressed surprise and excitement at the proposal made by Wehman, but many said they were still cautiously optimistic.

"It's beyond perfect, but that doesn't mean I don't have a lot of questions to ask," said Steve Lott, who's part of the Goliad Airpark Coalition.

Lott said he had reservations about a provision in the proposal that would permit the trust to allow government aircraft to use the airport.

The court turned down a $2.3 million purchase proposal from the Navy in May because residents were concerned about the amount of noise the military's training would make.

Wehman said the trust is aware of the noise concern and that they would do "anything to reasonably reduce noise," like landing at sharper angles.

"I don't have enough information," Lott said. "Sometimes little communities get bad things dropped on them because they think we're defenseless."

Rodriguez said the court would approach Wehman with citizens' concerns at a future meeting. No date was set for the meeting, but the commissioner said it would be soon.

If all goes smoothly, Rodriguez said the airpark could have a new owner by the end of the year.



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