Airport's Future On The Ballot
EAA and AOPA have both launched campaigns to save a Florida airport from the condo crowd. A powerful lobby of local developers has forced a vote on the future of St. Petersburg's Albert Whitted Airport (SPG) and as the plebiscite looms on Tuesday, both sides are firing salvos of advertising and direct mail at the people who will decide. "Never before have we seen a local developer agenda try to circumvent federal regulations by taking an airport closure proposal to voters," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. The anti-airport forces are proposing that half the waterfront airport be dedicated as a park (sound familiar?) while the rest faces an unspecified future. According to EAA, the park proponents are the same well-heeled developers who lobbied unsuccessfully last year to have the airport closed so they could build condos there. Public opinion seems to be in favor of keeping the airport open and the alphabet groups are also pointing out that if the airport is closed, St. Petersburg will have to pay back federal grant money used to improve the airport in recent years. Those grants come with the condition that the airport remain viable for at least 20 years after the money is spent.