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Fri, May 14, 2004

Tampa's Executive Airport To Close

Field Would Be Plowed Under

It wasn't unexpected. For the past several years, Tampa Bay Executive Airport (FL) has been in trouble. But now, its owner says the airport will close October 1st. He's already talking with buyers about what will happen next.

"We do have some folks who are genuinely interested in the property," said owner Lew Friedland in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times. But, he said, "nobody's talking about building another airport. Everybody knew it was going to close."

Tampa Bay Executive is home to about 100 general aviation aircraft, as well as Bayflight, a medical helicopter service.

"It's just sad to see an airport go," said Charles Brammer, owner of the North Tampa Aeropark in Wesley Chapel (FL). He's expanding his hangar space, where many of the 89 new units will house refugees from Tampa Bay Executive.

Tuesday, Pasco County Commissioner Pete Altman reportedly suggested creating a "citizens' task force" to determine what impact the closure will have -- especially in Bayflight's case. Altman wants the county to consider building another airport to replace Tampa Bay Executive, a proposal supported by at least one other commission member.

But the pressure to develop land now occupied by Tampa Bay Executive is tremendous. Land goes for more than $40,000 an acre in that area. The 300 acres of airport property could easily go for $12 million, according to County Commissioner Steve Simon.

"While I feel for the private plane owner ... I don't think the county's responsibility is to provide a facility for that," he said.

FMI: www.pascocountyfl.net

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