Post Tagged with: "Myrtle Beach International Airport"

Wasteful Spending at International Technology and Aerospace Park

September 18, 2016 6:36 AM
Wasteful Spending at International Technology and Aerospace Park

The Myrtle Beach Planning Commission amended the development plan for the International Technology and Aerospace Park at Myrtle Beach International Airport last week to provide for additional uses on the property.

The uses added are for medical offices and overflow parking for special events.

Much of the ITAP land was purchased from the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Commission over 15 years ago with grant funds received from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Grant assurances signed by Horry County Department of Airports at the time of receipt of the funds require the land to be used for aviation purposes.

It is difficult to see how medical offices and overflow parking fit into the category of “aviation purposes”. It is conceivable that the city’s amendment places the county in violation of grant assurances given to the FAA.

However, such a violation would be just the latest in almost two decades of mistakes and wasteful spending on that piece of property by Horry County and other public agencies.

Initially, the land was intended as the site on which the, then planned, west side airport passenger terminal was to be built.

After the west side terminal project was cancelled in 2007 because of skyrocketing costs and numerous other miscalculations by county officials, county council and staff searched for a way to avoid paying back to the FAA the $5 million federal dollars spent on the land purchase.

This search led to the birth of the idea to build the international technology and aerospace park.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2011 complete with grandiose pronouncements by local officials, including 7th District Congressman Tom Rice (then chairman of county council), of the economic development and “5,000 jobs” the park would bring to Horry County within a “couple of years.”

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Remembering Horry County Council Past Decisions

June 22, 2016 3:40 AM
Remembering Horry County Council Past Decisions

A small agenda item for Tuesday’s Horry County Council meeting brought reminders of how special interests and ego often combine to replace common sense in the public decision making process.

The item was second reading of an ordinance to make a slight adjustment to the Multi County Business Park ordinance of 1999 as amended in 2000.

Under consideration was abandonment by Horry County of the last several years of an exclusive option to purchase land from Burroughs and Chapin near the Myrtle Beach International Airport.

On the surface it seems like a fairly innocuous item.

Until we remember the MCBP was essentially a $79 million giveaway to B&C for basically nothing in return for the county. It was the most contentious issue of its day, passed three readings by a slim majority, and, within the next few years, 10 members of council either left office or were defeated at the ballot box.

The MCBP ordinance was the ultimate example of local elected officials bowing to the demands of special interests at the expense of ordinary voters and it cost many of them their elected position.

The piece of land in question was needed for construction of a second runway at Myrtle Beach International.

The second runway concept was part of an airport plan of the early 2000’s that included a $500 million airport terminal on the west side of the runways. This was a time when council egos envisioned MBIA as a major gateway airport for national and international tourists that were going to flock to Myrtle Beach.

The concept was absolutely ridiculous and a pure flight of fancy (ego) on the part of a majority of county council for several years until the entire plan fell victim to its own faults.

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Horry County Department of Airports Inconsistencies

December 14, 2015 4:56 AM
Horry County Department of Airports Inconsistencies

Looking at the Horry County Department of Airports through the years, a conclusion can be drawn that businesses operating at the various airports are treated differently.

It’s almost as if winners and losers are chosen by airport officials based on no apparent criteria.

Such an attitude is contradictory to instructions from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Accepting FAA grant money (of which Horry County receives millions every year) and free land conveyance of former Air Force property brings with it certain requirements of and assurances from the county. The most important of these is that the airports and their facilities must be available for public use in a non-discriminatory manner.

However, after discouraging Hooters Air from renting hangar space at Myrtle Beach International Airport by insisting on rental of $5 per sq. ft., the Horry County Department of Airports rented the same hangars to AvCraft for $2 per sq. ft.

That was only the beginning rent. Over a 10 year period the airport department kept reducing rent , in an attempt to keep AvCraft in business, until the company finally went belly up.

The Conway airport was home to the North American Institute of Aviation. The school did well until the late 1990’s when enrollment started to decline.

Local businessman Benjamin Creel bought the school at that point, but its losses continued to mount.

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Thanks for the Memories Marion Foxworth

August 21, 2015 5:04 AM
Thanks for the Memories Marion Foxworth

It was with great sadness that I watched Councilman Marion Foxworth participate in his final Horry County Council meeting Tuesday night.

With all due respect to other present and former council members, no one brought to the council dais the level of knowledge about Horry County history and the way government works as Foxworth has.

Foxworth is a master politician. Staying true to his Democratic Party roots, during a time when Horry County was moving ever more to the Republican column, he was targeted for defeat in every election campaign he ran by a succession of Horry County Republican Party chairmen.

It made no difference. Foxworth was first elected to county council in a special election in 2002 and successively re-elected in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

During his over 13 years of service on council, he proved himself to be more fiscally conservative than his Republican colleagues. I believe the only tax increase he voted for during his entire council service was the six-tenths of one mil for funding Coast RTA, but only after it was approved by voters in an advisory referendum.

When it came to the massive 6 mil fire fund increase in FY 2015 and 7.2 mil general fund increase in FY 2016, Foxworth was firmly in the NO column.

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Horry County General Aviation Problems

July 26, 2015 5:02 AM
Horry County General Aviation Problems

An email making its way around the county highlights continuing problems with general aviation at the Horry County Department of Airports.

Discussions about general aviation were taken up during the Horry County Council March 2015 budget retreat. It was mentioned that the county’s general aviation operations were running approximately $400,000 in the red.

There is a general aviation terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport and general aviation airports in North Myrtle Beach, Conway and Loris.

At the time of the budget retreat, GSD wrote that the problem was the county, and specifically Horry County Department of Airports, has neither a real business plan nor any idea how to develop one.

That’s a main reason the International Technology and Aerospace Park (ITAP) at Myrtle Beach International remains nothing but bare grass and why the nearly 200 acres of county land surrounding Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach has no aviation related businesses located there.

This was reiterated in the email, which was sent by a long time aviation business operating in the county, “I would tell you that you need someone in this job that understands aviation, how to promote it and educate the public on the benefits derived from it. Above all, a complete change of attitude on how best to attract good solid business people at these facilities to service the aviation community. Only then will these four airports become productive and useful to the county.”

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Horry County Council Delays Airport Work

April 23, 2015 6:00 AM
Horry County Council Delays Airport Work

I was happy to see Horry County Council table a budget amendment Tuesday for façade work on the old passenger terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

The action keeps $3.5 million from being spent needlessly since plans for what to do with that portion of the old terminal don’t exist.

Saving $3.5 million is a drop in the bucket of money that has been spent needlessly at the airport over the last 15-20 years.

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Horry County Department of Airports Terminal Expenditures

April 15, 2015 6:00 AM
Horry County Department of Airports Terminal Expenditures

The Horry County Department of Airports is preparing to spend at least $10 million refurbishing the old passenger terminal building.

This is on top of the approximately $120 million spent in the last few years for a new terminal building.

There should be some justification for these expenses, but it’s hard to fathom what that is when looking at passenger numbers at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

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Horry County Council Looks at Airports

April 7, 2015 6:00 AM
Horry County Council Looks at Airports

One of the more interesting discussions at the recent Horry County Council budget retreat dealt with the county’s Department of Airports.

Concerns were expressed about the county’s three general aviation airports, Grand Strand, Conway and Loris, all losing money.

The Department of Airports showed a net operating loss of approximately $150,000 last year. The three general aviation airports accounted for a total loss of approximately $400,000 while Myrtle Beach International Airport showed a profit of approximately $250,000.

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Myrtle Beach International Airport Old Terminal Rehab Costs

February 18, 2015 5:30 AM
Myrtle Beach International Airport Old Terminal Rehab Costs

The cost of renovating the old terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport should raise questions among limited government proponents.

Now estimated at approximately $10 million, the cost includes $3.5 million for a new glass front to the building, according to several sources.

But, rising costs on airport projects are nothing new at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

The real question is do we need to spend this money?

What is ironic about the old terminal project is that the planned renovations now include work that county officials were once told could not be done on that structure.

County officials were told in early 2008 that expansion work and interior renovations on the old terminal building would not meet new building code requirements and could not be done.

So the new east side terminal and its passenger gates were built and the old terminal is being renovated to open two new passenger gates to handle all of the new passengers flying to Myrtle Beach.

But, that is not happening.

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What Does AvCraft Sale Bring to Horry County?

January 25, 2015 9:00 AM
What Does AvCraft Sale Bring to Horry County?

The recent request by AvCraft Technical Services to Horry County Council for further considerations by the county to help facilitate the sale of AvCraft appears extremely flawed.

According to several industry and county sources, Sun Air Scandinavia is considering the purchase of AvCraft.

According to sources familiar with the AvCraft request, Horry County is being asked to spend a significant amount of money upgrading at least two of the three hangars AvCraft now occupies at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

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