BROOKSVILLE — Bradley Dye wants to expand his Clearwater company, Corporate Jet Solutions, to the empty Brooksville Air Center building at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.
"We want to bring jobs. We want to spend money. But we've found it very difficult to do so,'' Dye told the Hernando County Commission on Tuesday. "We've been discouraged to be a fixed-base operator.''
Dye spoke after county Commissioner Wayne Dukes asked other commissioners and county staffers whether Dye's company was being shut out as some "good old boy thing.''
By the end of the discussion, the commission had moved up the time line for hearing proposals for those wanting to lease the old air center property and wrested the responsibility for hearing the proposals from the Aviation Authority board.
Last Thursday, at a meeting of the Hernando County Aviation Authority, airport manager Don Silvernell announced that he and county business development manager Michael McHugh had been in talks with Dye's company, lifting a confidentiality agreement.
But just the night before, Silvernell received a letter from John Petrick, president of the airport's only current fixed-base operator, American Aviation. Petrick, too, expressed interest in leasing the facility. The authority set June 13 to hear proposals.
Dye told commissioners Tuesday that he was eager to move forward and described how his airplane maintenance business is booming. He promised to bring new business and a flight school to the site, along with 15,000 takeoffs and landings the first year.
"We found the reluctance to allow us to come very unusual,'' Dye said. "It appears to us like a fear of competition.'' He didn't say who he felt opposed his plan.
Commissioners said they wanted to move up the time line and asked for those who wanted to lease the air center to make their formal pitches to the County Commission on May 28.
American Aviation's attorney, Robert Morris, was also at Tuesday's meeting. He warned that his client couldn't get his packet together by then and that the commission was being prejudiced against American Aviation, which has done business at the airport since 1978.
"So noted,'' said commission Chairman Dave Russell.