...Pricey To Expand...

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Although far more airports close every year than are opened, there are jurisdictions that see the wisdom in keeping the flying fraternity safe and happy. But as St. Augustine, Fla., officials found out last week, expanding an airport into an existing neighborhood is about as popular as expanding a landfill in the same direction. The St. Augustine-St. Johns County Airport Authority is borrowing $5 million to expand the airport into a residential area called Araquay Park. The authority already owns 75 percent of the land there and hopes to pick up the rest but about half of the remaining owners don't want to sell. "I've enjoyed living here ... and I don't want to leave," Mary McElroy told The St. Augustine Record. Over in Birmingham, Ala., the city council sees airport expansion coming and is taking steps to make sure it doesn't end up where it's not wanted. The council voted to dedicate an area eyed for airport expansion as a park. "What we have done is drawn a line in the sand and said we don't want you coming in this direction any time," Councilman Joel Montgomery, who wrote the resolution, said at the meeting. The Birmingham Airport Authority will be able to work around the park and still keep up with expansion demands. "We will plan accordingly as the demand for growth of the airport continues," airport authority spokeswoman Patty Howell told The Birmingham News. Area residents are hopeful but skeptical the city's tack will work. "The dedication of the park will at least make things more difficult," Richard Rutledge, a neighborhood group leader, told the News.