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Northampton County Council moves to block sale of Braden Airpark

EASTON, Pa. - In a preemptive move to block the possible sale or closing of Braden Airpark in Palmer Township, Northampton County Council Thursday night authorized county executive John Stoffa to sue the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

Council's decision was prompted by the authority's public announcement that it wants to sell the airport. In the wake of that announcement, a plan proposed by local airport enthusiasts, headed by Bob Brown, surfaced at council's last meeting. It calls for the formation of an authority that would buy Braden and keep it open.

Outside the meeting room, Brown spoke with supporters of his plan.

"Council put bullets in Mr. Stoffa's gun and he made it clear he's not going to shoot anyone and now we can negotiate."

Stoffa told council he had spent several hours earlier in the day on the telephone with the LNAA. Stoffa said the discussions concluded with an understanding that the LNAA would not sell Braden until March 31, 2014, giving council at least six months to negotiate.

By that time a new county executive and council will be in place to handle the Braden issue.

Stoffa said he hopes the matter does not wind up in court.

"We can't afford it," he said. "We're in court too much already."

The possible sale of the airport arose after the long-time operator there, Moyer Aviation, relocated to Mount Pocono.

Brown said Moyer ran the airport and made a profit but a "lack of communication" with the airport authority over the terms of a lease led him to pull up stakes.

Brown's group has proposed the purchase of the airfield through a 30-year, $3.5 million bond.

In the near term, the proposal asks the county to pump $5,000 per month or more for at least five months.

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