The Museum of Flight is staying put at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport, pending a final vote by the Floyd County Commission next week.
The Airport Commission approved a new multi-year lease arrangement with the museum on Tuesday that will include a monthly lease reduction for the next two years.
The arrangements for the new lease call for the museum to pay $687 a month until the month after the signing of the new lease, then $550 a month for the next year. The following year, it will be set at $650 a month, taking the museum into the spring of 2022.
At that point the museum will have an option to extend the lease for an additional two years.
“We didn’t want them going anywhere,” said Airport Manager John Carroll. “We think they’re a great addition to our airport.”
Museum of Flight Executive Director Christine Lewis said she was good with the new lease, adding that it is identical to the lease for TigerFlight — another educational nonprofit located at the airport.
Lewis said she is still trying to figure out ways to make the community and region more aware of the museum.
“For as many times as we’ve been in the paper, we are constantly hearing I didn’t know there was a museum there,” Lewis said. “We are doing the Rosie the Riveter day again on March 21. We’re super stoked about that because it’s the 75th anniversary of the ending of World War II. It just happens to fall on a Saturday.”
While the lease negotiations have been going on, at least four other airports were making serious efforts to lure the museum to their sites. Lewis said the Paulding County and Lawrenceville airports in Georgia were interested along with airports in Anderson, South Carolina, and London/Corbin, Kentucky.
Officials at the Paulding County Airport proposed a lease in December that would have provided a 1,500-square-foot space for the museum to use while the airport constructed a new hangar to house the aircraft.
The nonprofit museum originated in Hixson, Tennessee, in 2010 but moved to Rome in 2014 when it outgrew its space in Tennessee.
The Floyd County Airport Commission also heard that bids to remove obstructions at the southern end of the main runway had come in at a little more than a million dollars — about 20% above budget. Consultants and the county are negotiating the price with the low bidder, C.W. Matthews.
Meanwhile, Carroll said the timetable for a major runway extension project has a call for bids coming in late spring or early summer for some preliminary earth work on the north end.
That means paving is not likely to occur before the Wings Over North Georgia air show scheduled for Oct. 24 and 25.
Also, officials with the Bear Creek Bash aerobatic competition attended the Airport Commission’s Wednesday meeting to thank Carroll and the board for working with their group the last several years. The 2020 event will be held June 4-7.