4 letters: Readers respond to mayor's airport editorial

Also, one citizen comments on the Cassen Park bait house project.

  • By
  • | 2:00 p.m. January 25, 2022
  • Ormond Beach Observer
  • Opinion
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Cassen Park is a public park

Dear Editor:

Maybe we have been in the dark for the past few years. We are unaware of a city plan to commercialize Cassen Park. Why would the city do this?

The thought of the over $900,000 price tag for a bait house/bathroom drives me nuts, and is absurd. According to past articles in the paper, that price estimate was given almost a year and a half ago. There has been huge increases in construction costs since then. The commissioners must be stone-deaf not to hear the public sentiment on all the frivolous spending they do.

Apparently this commercial conversion of Cassen Park has been in the works for at least seven to eight years. I think most citizens would like to hear each commissioner’s position on why they think the public access and use of the park should be subjugated for private commercial entities use, to profit from a publicly-owned park. Private businesses don’t own it, and have no right to commercially develop it, or use it in support of an offsite location.  

Mary Anne Andrew

Ormond Beach

The mayor's position doesn't fly

Dear Editor:

The decision to extend the east-west runway at the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport was made without citizen knowledge or input. The 2015 Airport Master Plan update ignores the strong public mandate against airport expansion that was clearly established by the City Commission 2004 rejection of a proposed north-south runway extension. Our mayor was part of the 5-0 vote to reject the 2004 runway extension.

The airport has little impact on our local economy. Our city’s charm is in its beach, its tree canopies, greenspaces, and beautiful residential neighborhoods. If we believe the FDOT current economic impact numbers, then a runway extension is unnecessary. Interestingly, the current airport debt to the general fund is roughly equal to the total dollars in this year’s Ormond Beach tax increase.

Airport expansion projects serve the agenda of the FAA (90% funding) and FDOT (8% funding), not the agenda of Ormond Beach or its people. Our mayor says we should grab federal grant dollars for the runway extension, or else the money will go elsewhere. That is our rationale? By fiscal year’s end, the airport debt to the general fund will hit $700,000. Contrary to the mayor’s assertion, no loans have been paid back to the general fund in years, and revenues are insufficient to offset airport costs and allow paybacks. Worse, the city just lost $100,000 in annual airport lease revenue when it closed the River Bend Golf Course at the end of 2020.

Documents reveal testimony supporting a runway extension for the purpose of allowing larger, heavier aircraft and corporate jets, with potential for a NetJets operation. The current runway has always been safe for the existing mix of aircraft, with no FAA or pilot complaints. There can be no increased economic benefit from a longer runway for the existing mix claimed by the mayor.

Jets and larger, heavier aircraft will mean longer, noisier takeoffs in greater frequency. The mayor’s airport “footprint” ignores the FAA’s defined 5-mile diameter “airport hazard area” for homes and in 36 residential subdivisions within 2.5 miles of the airport. The affected neighborhoods comprise about 25% of the city’s population.

The mayor’s written defense of the proposed runway extension contains factual contradictions and questionable economic reasoning in a city that has imposed significant water and sewer rate increases for this year and next in addition to the recent property tax increase. He ignores mounting airport deficits, $318,000 in legal fees to challenge a $271,000 golf course property tax assessment, another $100,000 for two new studies. He remains tone deaf to input from citizens who are clearly being forced into subsidizing an airport expansion they do not want. 

Instead of representing the people, a handful of very wealthy special interests have his support for a project that will further damage our quality of life, disturb the quiet enjoyment of our homes, and reduce property values.

Rob Bridger

Ormond Beach

In response to Partington

Dear Editor: 

Bill Partington states he has considered “citizen concerns” about airport extension. If he has, I fail to see evidence of consideration. I have followed Ormond Beach Citizens’ expressions of disapproval of airport expansion since 2004 and find no evidence in Partington’s comments that he has seriously considered citizen objections to airport expansion. Given the 2004 vote to not expand airport runways, Partington’s support for their expansion now directly contradicts his previous vote.

The economic impact on the city Partington attributes to business located at the airport presently exists and does not in any way depend on airport expansion. The alleged “value to the city” seems to me to omit that the airport does not support itself as required by the FAA. In fact, the current deficit of $624,309 borrowed from the city’s general fund and unresolved lawsuits and related legal expenses provide factual proof the airport significantly drains city resources.

Partington alleges that only the same type of aircraft that presently use the airport will be able to use it after are completed runway extensions. As far as I know, the city has no authority to specify the type of aircraft that can land and use the airport. In other words, a longer runway could “invite” larger noisy jets to land free of landing fees charged at other airports. I seriously doubt Ormond Beach citizens would appreciate even more aircraft noise.

Present citizen airport objections largely focus on flight school low flying noisy planes violating the flight path their owns agreed to follow. Runway extensions will unlikely change flight school owners allowing their pilots and students to daily violate the flight paths.

Partington ignores the reality that the majority of Ormond Beach citizens do not want to have the runways expanded/increased or changed. The airport serves a limited number of users other than the rejected flight school planes. In effect, only the economic elite use the airport and call for its expansion. A majority of average citizens do not want the airport expanded. In fact, I suspect if surveyed, the majority would vote to have the airport closed. I venture the majority of citizens daily bombarded with loud, low flying flight school planes would “demand” its closure. If Partington really wants to “listen” to Ormond Beach citizens, I suggest a random survey of citizens would give him something to “listen to."

Charles G. Russell

Ormond Beach

Airport is not self-sustaining

The Ormond Beach 2021-22 Budget shows a $685,000 deficit for the airport, money taken from the General Fund. The General Fund is defined as the operating fund of the city and used to account for all financial resources, except those required to be accounted for in another fund. The city has added the airport to that definition. Our budget has a dedicated fund: Airport Fund.

FAA requires airports such as ours to be self-sustaining. Airport revenue from user fees, rentals, fuel sales and other sources are to be established to provide the necessary funding for the airport and deposited into the dedicated Airport Fund account. These are the funds which are expected to fund what is needed or desired at the airport. There does not appear to be any place in the budget that shows repayment of this loan from the general fund. An airport that owes the taxpayers $685,000 has no business asking for additional loans from the city, or any other entity until it repays its debts and charges the users of the airport fees that make the airport self-sustaining. 

Explanations of how great this airport is for Ormond Beach (to be in debt) are falling on unsympathetic residents. The ordinary citizens of Ormond Beach aren’t interested in subsidizing the airport for a few people who want a place for their big toys, especially after losing the golf course that provided a civic purpose to residents and visitors and provided a source of income to the airport.  Now we are asked to pay a consultant $57,000 to decide how to change the purpose of a golf course that we want. More people in this area can afford golf clubs than airplanes!

Connie Colby

Ormond Beach



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