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Bankruptcy judge orders meeting to resolve issues around Rock Airport sale

| Friday, April 25, 2014, 1:26 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A vintage airplane serves as a decoration at the entrance to Rock Airport and Business Park in West Deer on Thursday, April 24, 2014.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
The entrance to the Deer Lakes Pilots Club sits in the Rock Airport and Business Park on Thursday, April 24, 2014.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A housing complex sits in the background of the Rock-Built business in the Rock Airport and Business Park in West Deer on Thursday, April 24, 2014.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A large collection of construction equipment sits beside the Joseph B. Fay Co. construction business in Rock Airport and Business Park in West Deer on Thursday, April 24, 2014.

A bankruptcy court judge on Thursday ordered attorneys in the Rock Airport case to meet and resolve issues that are inhibiting the sale of the airport and business park in West Deer.

The meeting must take place by May 1 so that both sides can be back in court for a May 6 hearing, during which Judge Carlota Böhm said that she would like to approve alternative buyer bidding procedures and set a sale date.

Rock Airport and Business Park has been in bankruptcy proceedings since 2009.

Airport President Rock Ferrone said his goal is to keep the airport open.

In March, Alaskan Property Management, a subsidiary of Management Science Associates, offered to buy the property for $6 million. The company hasn't said whether it will close the airport.

Management Science Associates is a tenant of the business park.

Other companies may compete with Alaskan by submitting purchase bids, which will be reviewed by Böhm. The judge will make the final decision on who can buy the 268-acre property.

The sales agreement brought to light several issues in the case, which include:

• Determining liability to repay $9.3 million in grant money to PennDOT (if the new owner closes the airport) should be included in the sale and bid requirements.

• Amending the sales agreement to leave the natural gas and mineral rights for the property in Ferrone's ownership.

• Providing information for potential bidders that ownership will come with a required easement for access to the power grid that serves the business park. The grid isn't part of the sale.

• Providing access to buildings at the site so that a consultant hired by Alaskan Property can complete an environment assessment.

Böhm said she wants the issues resolved before she sets a sale date in order to keep the proceedings moving forward.

“I want to encourage people to come bid,” Böhm said.

Ferrone's attorney, Robert Lampl, said that within the next month he will be submitting a plan to emerge from bankruptcy.

That plan would compete with Alaskan's sale agreement and any bids that are submitted.

“I can assure your honor that we're negotiating in good faith and we have a plan,” Lampl said. “We have something, but it needs to be refined.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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