At its meeting Wednesday night, the Kenai City Council was eager to learn more about a potential sale of city property for infrastructure to house a hybrid airship — a kind of blimp with a large cargo and passenger capacity.
Ron Hyde, owner of the Cannery Lodge and PRL Logistics on Kenai’s south side, plans to use hybrid airships to supply oil and gas and mining operations around the state, based out of Kenai, and approached city administration with the desire to lease or purchase the land off Bowpicker Lane.
Though the football-field-sized airships are not yet built, a dozen have been ordered by operator Straight-line Aviation, which would partner with PRL Logistics in Alaska and Northern Canada.
City Manager Paul Ostrander said he wanted to bring the idea to the council before Hyde made the application.
“The reason this was unique is for a couple reasons. One, the parcel doesn't exist right now. So it's not a part, it would be one that would need to be subdivided. The second part is because it is an area that is wetland, and there's probably significant permitting that would be required,” he said. “And there may be some controversy as whether or not the city would be supportive of that being utilized for this purpose, which is why I brought it forward to council before we process the application.”
Vice Mayor Robert Malloy expressed some reservation about the parcel being too large.
“You know, some of that is right next to the ridge there, you know, that's a major bird area,” he said. “And so, I mean, 5 acres, I would be hesitant about that size, as opposed to, like, 2 acres.”
But Councilman Jim Glendening spoke for the rest of the council when he said he looked forward to hearing more.
“I'm in favor of, you know, discussing this and would encourage Mr. Hyde to make application. This is following through with his theme and theory of what he was going to do with his transportation vehicles. And looks like a hangar might be a logical place for it,” he said. “I, from my own point of view, I don't see why we shouldn't explore the the application.”
Once the lease application is submitted, the property would be disposed of through a competitive process, in accordance with city code.