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Wakulla tables vote to close airport

Posted at 12:20 PM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 12:20:34-04

The decision was made by the Wakulla County Commission to table the vote to possibly close the airport.

This comes after the county terminated the airport's operation and maintenance in April.

"The Wakulla County airport is the only public use airport in the county," said HOA member Sheryl Kuersteiner

She added it's used for more than just private flights.

"I think if lives are saved, emergency supplies are dropped after a hurricane event, and the military uses our field what more public benefit can you ask for."

Back in April, the County offered to let the Home Owners Association at Tarpine take full ownership of the airport.

Kuersteiner said that although they don't want the airport to close, the HOA can't financially handle full ownership.

"We don't have access to the grant funding since we're not a political subdivision. It would be on our shoulders to pay all of those expenses"

Those expenses would include adding lighting, irrigation and widening the runway strip to be in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Kuersteiner adds that the Florida Department of Transportation can help with funding, but can only do so if the county is still involved.

Linette Halter is petitioning for the airport to remain open.

She is part of an aviation group in Tallahassee that uses the hangars at the airport.

She says if they close the Wakulla airport, the group will have to travel further to find somewhere to fly.

"But it's difficult when you can't even find a place to do it. I'm not wealthy this is why we're doing it this way," Halter said.

Tony Nabors lives in Tarpine Airpark, a fly-in community adjacent to the grass runway.

Being an aviation mechanic he believes it would be a shame for the airport to close.

"I think it's quite an asset to the county and we'd like to keep it," Nabors said.

The airport is currently under a public-private partnership between the County and the Tarpine Airpark

County Commissioner Ralph Thomas said the issue has been going on for years now.

In 2016, a state statue came out requiring either a sound study be done or prohibit residential construction on the property around the airport.
Thomas said the board was looking for other options because the sound study would cost around $300,000.

"We want to make sure that those who use it and benefit from it are bearing the cost of it and it's not an overly expensive burden to the tax payers in Wakulla County."

Commissioner Thomas said they've received new information about the sound study and a donation of land for the airport — information she said needs to be considered before making a decision.