WARNER ROBINS -- Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen said Thursday that the city needs to look at alternatives for completing the Georgia-Robins Aerospace Maintenance Partnership, including selling the land for the hangar project to a developer.
In a keynote address at the Eggs & Issues Breakfast, a bimonthly event put on by the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce, Shaheen said with the environmental assessment complete, construction on the first of three phases of G-RAMP could begin in the next year. However, he said he doesn’t think the city should be burdened with the construction, as has been discussed.
“We have a lot of projects going on,” Shaheen said. “I’m more inclined to selling it to a developer. It’s a decision I’ll take to council.”
G-RAMP aims to be a public-private partnership to build additional hangars for aircraft maintenance at Robins Air Force Base. City leaders have long touted it as an effort that could create thousands of jobs in the region. While an exact figure hasn’t been nailed down, cost estimates have been as high as $72.5 million.
Shaheen said he and council will discuss at a February City Council retreat whether to continue with the current plans for the city to build the hangars, sell the property to Robins to develop or sell the land to a developer to complete the project.
Councilmen Mike Daley and Paul Shealy, who attended the breakfast, said they agreed with Shaheen that alternative development ideas needed to be reviewed.
Shealy said a recently completed environmental assessment study shows the land can be developed on, which had been a concern. Shaheen said the project received the needed finding of no significant impact to move forward.
“That was money well-spent,” Shealy said of the $83,500 used for the environmental assessment.
Shealy said residents have asked him why G-RAMP was not included in a proposed six-year special purpose local option sales tax, which residents will vote on March 6. He said the $7 million included in the proposed SPLOST to address encroachment was more important.
“Now, there’s a necessity over a luxury, more or less,” Shealy said, stressing that doesn’t mean G-RAMP is not needed.
Bibb County already has committed $6 million toward buying 250 properties in the area to help the encroachment issue following a recently approved SPLOST. The Department of Defense considers the properties north of Robins to be incompatible with the base’s mission.
During the breakfast, Shaheen stressed the need for Middle Georgia cities and counties to take on a regional outlook for the future.
“We got to build a bridge and think regionally. Otherwise, we’re going to be a one-city state, and we’ll get left behind,” he said, referring to Atlanta.
Houston County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said encroachment is one of the topics that shows a regional view taking form.
“The only way we will survive is working together,” Stalnaker said. “The school board, the base, the county and the cities -- all of us are on the same team, and we need to be pulling in the same direction.”
Information from Telegraph archives were used in this report.