PITTSTON TWP. — The search is on.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Board Thursday hired ADK Consulting & Executive Search, a Florida-based company, to conduct the search for a new executive director.
The company was hired for a fee not to exceed $29,000 plus estimated expenses not to exceed $6,000 to find candidates to choose from and to narrow the list of applicants.
Barry Centini, the current airport executive director, announced in April he will retire on Jan. 9, 2015. Centini , 65, of Plains Township, has worked at the airport for 43 years, the last 25 as director and is paid $115,000 per year.
The search is expected to take 60 to 90 days, said Airport Board Chairman James Wansacz, a Lackawanna County commissioner.
“ADK will review all applicants and get the list down to 12 and then to six or under,” Wansacz said. “The board will interview the finalists and that could include a visit to their current workplace.”
Wansacz said the goal is to have the new director hired by October or November to allow for relocation and time to work with Centini.
At the April board meeting, Centini was lauded for his service, noting his career began as business manager and progressed to director. Centini said his career was highlighted by the $90 million construction of the new terminal and parking garage that opened in 2006 and included other improvements.
Wansacz said the airport received about six proposals from companies interested in conducting the search. He said ADK specializes in searches for airport management positions.
The board briefly discussed a recent Times Leader editorial that advocated the need for additional air carriers at the airport. Wansacz and Robert Lawton, Luzerne County manager, wanted to make it clear that the airport staff is constantly searching for new carriers to add to the service.
“It comes down to whether or not we fit into their business plan,” Wansacz said. “But yes, we would like to have additional carriers and the public can rest assured that we are always looking to expand our services.”
Wansacz continued by noting that the airport has undertaken several projects, like the runway expansion and fuel barn, that are being done to make the airport more attractive to carriers.
Wansacz went on to say that part of criteria in selecting a new executive director will include a strong skill set/experience in bringing new carriers to airports.
In other business, the board approved a resolution requesting both Lackawanna and Luzerne counties seek the acquisition of about 5.1 acres adjacent to the airport through eminent domain as part of the taxi-way extension project.
Michael Conner, assistant airport director, said the airport administration and solicitor have been negotiating with the property owner, Paramount Group of Moosic, but have not been able to come to an agreement.
Wansacz said the airport had the property appraised at a value of $26,000, but the owner is seeking a higher price.
Luzerne County Councilman Rick Williams, an architect, asked why the property was not purchased before awarding the $1.1 million design contract to L.R. Kimball of Ebensburg.
“The success of this project is dependent upon the acquisition of this property,” Williams said. “We should have acquired this property before entering into a contract.”
Conner said the airport doesn’t feel the property is worth much and that the acquisition process will “not get out of hand.” Wansacz said the property once housed a powder plant and may need some environmental cleanup.
Representatives of PennDOT attended the meeting and reported that the airport access road project is about 43 percent complete and should be done by November, 2015.