ST. MARYS, Ga. (Camden County JDA) — This afternoon, at the site of the former St. Marys airport, ABL Space Systems (ABL), the City of St. Marys, and the Joint Development Authority of Camden County (JDA) agreed to terms on a lease that will allow ABL to begin business in Camden County, Georgia. The ABL lease agreement signals another step toward establishing Camden County as the Commercial Space Center of the United States.
Under the terms of today’s agreement, the Camden County JDA will lease the former St. Marys airport property from the City of St. Marys along with a former aircraft hangar adjacent to the airport from a private owner. The JDA will make minor improvements to the sites and sub-lease both properties to ABL.
The Camden County Joint Development Authority voted last week to provide $750,000 for the establishment of a spaceport in Georgia.
Before the vote, authority chairman Charlie Smith told members they had an obligation to approve the funding request from the Camden County Commission.
“Refusal would be a slap in the face of the people who are funding us,” Smith said. “It would be a tragedy for us not to abide by the county commission’s request.”
Earlier in the meeting, the board allowed county resident and vocal spaceport critic Steve Weinkle to speak. He said the commissioners’ request for JDA funding was “distressing,” but not surprising. It is an indication the county did a poor job planning, he said.
The county has already spent about $3 million to establish a spaceport and Weinkle predicted the county will have an empty piece of property by the time the process ends. He also questioned if commissioners believe the authority is doing its job to bring new employers to the county.
“It’s a bottomless pit,” he said. “We’re spending our future for the spaceport.”
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