In 2017, the McGinness Airport property was listed for $1,625,000.
Columbia Borough Council approved a contract with a public relations firm this week to handle communications and information about a potential purchase of the McGinness property at 1020 Manor Street.Gavin, a "public relations and communications services" firm, will "guide communication strategies" (according to their proposal) concerning the purchase of the 58-acre tract. (Currently, the property is not under agreement.) The 10-page contract proposal detailing the scope of services and pricing structure begins on page 25 of the meeting's council packet, which can be downloaded HERE.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, councilman Todd Burgard said the company will help the borough in "managing the message" regarding the purchase. Although it was not explicitly stated, that message might involve tamping down any possible controversy over a report about environmental/subsurface conditions at the site, which stems from a 2017 study. Although no definite plans for the property were announced, an item in the proposal mentions "drone innovation and investment."
Council vice president Sharon Lintner said she knew nothing about the Gavin proposal until she saw it on the meeting agenda. (The agenda lists the item as "11. b. Consider Contract for Communication and PR Support for the purchase of the McGinness Airport.") Council president Heather Zink suggested tabling the item, but after discussion the item remained, and council ultimately voted to approve the contract 5-2, with Lintner and councilman Howard Stevens voting against the motion.
This is not the first time the property has been under consideration by the borough. At the April 10, 2017 council meeting, the former council voted 5-1 to purchase the property but nixed the deal in July due to "environmental and/or subsurface conditions of the property." According to the minutes of the July 24, 2017 special council meeting, council approved the following motion 6-0 to void the agreement of sale:
[Note: At Tuesday's meeting, councilman Burgard insisted, without evidence, that the deal had been nixed due to price, not contamination.]
The property is currently listed at $1,495,000.