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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Airport board mulls new terminal

By Elaine Williams Lewiston Tribune

A study that will determine if the terminal at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport should be remodeled or replaced will be completed in coming months.

The airport authority board that oversees the transportation hub Tuesday approved the $99,999 study that will be paid for with Federal Aviation Administration money.

The airport terminal was constructed in 1960 and had its most recent major overhaul in 1994, said Airport Director Michael Isaacs.

Typically, terminal upgrades take a total of five years to complete, beginning from the time an initial study starts, he said.

“We’re not going to have any proposed designs for you,” Isaacs said. “At this point, we’re just trying to decide what’s the condition. Let’s assess what we have here.”

The timing of the study is good because there’s lots of federal infrastructure money that could potentially help pay for the project, said Authority Board Chairman Gary Peters.

“We know our terminal is at the end of its life,” Peters said. “Everything in it (heating, air conditioning and ventilation system and) electrical is kind of on life support. So this is fantastic. I will be interested to see what they come up with.”

In other business at the board meeting, members discussed the possibility of increasing the annual rate the city of Lewiston pays the airport for its land lease for Bryden Canyon Golf Course from $31,624 perhaps to about $80,000.

The board made no decision and plans to schedule a meeting with the city before the holidays.

The issue surfaced in 2018 or 2019 when the Federal Aviation Administration tagged the golf course agreement for not following rules that require such leases to be at market rates during a review of airport leases, Peters said.

The penalties for being out of compliance with FAA rules can include having to repay millions in FAA grants that paid for airport infrastructure upgrades, Isaacs said.

The airport board reviewed an appraisal completed by a third-party consultant for the airport.

The appraisal indicated that a market value lease would be about $80,000 a year based on 9% of the golf course’s annual revenue of $893,000.

The 132-acre course has annual expenses of about $625,000 and a market value of $1.2 million, according to the appraisal.

The board’s look at the lease comes during the same year the golf course has undergone a major transition.

CourseCo became the operator of the course on April 1 in an agreement that extends through the end of September 2026 and then automatically renews for as many as seven years. CourseCo had run Bryden Canyon on an interim basis starting Oct. 1, 2022, when a company of Jeff Briney ended its agreement with the city to operate the course.

Briney’s company ran the course for more than 20 years. CourseCo has more than 30 years of experience in its industry with properties that include Palouse Ridge Golf Club at Washington State University.

The airport could also go an entirely different direction, Peters said.

Rather than raise the lease rate for the city, the airport might put out its own request for a proposal to make Bryden Canyon a profit center for the airport, he said.

“Maybe both of us (the city and the airport) are guilty of undercharging ourselves for what it could be generating,” Peters said. “Maybe it’s just another thing to look at to get the airport sustainable, which is obviously ours and the city’s goal.”