June 30, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Members of the Venice, Fla., airport community are ready to get down to the business of improving their airport now that the city council has approved a revised airport layout and capital improvements, in votes that overcame years of grant-freezing political resistance.
In an action hailed by local news media as “a new chapter in the history of the Venice Municipal Airport,” the city council followed up a final public hearing June 28 with a 6-1 vote to approve a compromise airport layout plan (ALP), which now must receive FAA review. The council also voted to approve a capital improvement plan that would move projects listed in the ALP into the pipeline for funding under the federal Airport Improvement Program.
The votes mark a turning point in a process that began in 2004 with efforts to come up with a master plan update, and finally overcame years of political resistance to honoring the airport sponsor’s contractual obligations under the Airport Improvement Program, said John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy.
He credited two major changes—the city’s hiring last year of a new airport director, Christopher Rozansky, and the post-election makeup of the Venice City Council—with helping to move the process forward. Rozansky came to Venice from the Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, Texas.
“This victory is possible through the dedication and hard work of a lot of people, including two Airport Support Network volunteers: John Yurosko and Chuck Schmieler, the Venice Aviation Society under the leadership of Nick Carlucci, the Venice Airport Business Association, and many pilots, tenants, and airport supporters,” Collins said.
The proposed ALP would shift Runway 13/31 to the southeast by 727 feet, repositioning the runway protection zone that had encompassed 24 homes in the Golden Shores neighborhood mostly back to airport property. Only two homes would remain within the zone. The plan would use design-alternative calculations under the concept of declared distances to make 5,000 feet available for takeoff on all runways. It would re-designate Runway 4/22 as Runway 5/23 and as the noise abatement runway. The plan also would address many other airport design standards about which the FAA had raised concerns. AOPA provided an explanation of the declared-distance concept in a letter to the city council during the plan review process, Collins said.
"We could not have arrived at this point without the continuous support, advice, and counsel of the AOPA staff,” said Schmieler. “We Venice Airport stakeholders look forward to getting down to the business of implementing the improvements called for in the ALP.”
Approval will clear the way for the city to seek up to $21 million in Airport Improvement Grants—funding that was unavailable while the city had refused to address its airport master plan, said a newspaper account of the public hearing and votes.
Rozansky, in an op-ed piece submitted to local newspapers, explained the role of the airport enterprise fund in providing local financing, and detailed the projects and their benefits to the community such as economic stimulus and employment from airport construction generated by the ALP.
“In summary, the ALP outlines meaningful improvements over the next five to seven years that will restore airfield infrastructure, enhance aviation/public safety and ensure VNC is viable economic asset for years to come. I congratulate the City Council on their tremendous step forward in approving the ALP and am eager to usher in a new era for Venice Municipal Airport,” he wrote.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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