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Witham Airport Action Majority
2336 SE Ocean Blvd. #172
Stuart, FL 34996
Phone (772) 283-9777
EMAS has been installed at Witham Field - it
was competed this month (Sept. 2011)
With the installation of EMAS, there is the
very real possibility that Witham Field will be come a Scheduled Service
Airport. (Despite the cries from airport interests that it will never
We have just learned that the airport has
received a letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows a
Customs Facility at Witham Field to charge Marine traffic.
Somehow the regulations prohibiting a fee based Customs Facility have magically disappeared.
However, even if allowed to charge Marine traffic clearing customs, the fee based facility at Witham is a financial loser. The only input the Board of County Commissioners have had to base their decisions were based on data collected by David Smith at Galaxy Aviation, not exactly a disinterested party. We have and will continue to ask for a non-partial financial analysis.
Customs at Witham Field - Were do we stand?
The Customs Facility being pushed by local airport operators and airport staff has become a financial boondoggle. Everything we were told about this project appears to have been pie in the sky guesstimates including the report from the consultants that were hired by Martin County to examine the feasibly of a fee based Customs Facility at Witham Field.
According to the latest report by airport staff (see attached item 7A), it will cost the taxpayers somewhere in the neighborhood of $625 thousand dollars to move forward on building a customs facility at Witham Field.
A customs facility will have little or no financial benefit to our community (it only enhances the profits of our local Fixed Base Operators (FBO's) while at the same time, it increases air traffic at our airport. The public must understand that increasing traffic at the airport provides little to no financial benefit to our community - but it does increase noise and pollution while negatively impacting our lives and property values. Decreased property values for communities within a 5 mile radius of the airport can be substantial. Many residents are not aware that a 5 mile radius includes the City of Stuart, Palm City, the Town of Sewall's Point and Jensen Beach. As traffic increases at the airport, the 5 mile radius increases so if you are not bothered by the airport now, you can expect that to change in the future if the airport continues to grow.
So where do we stand on the customs issue?
* When proposed, we were told that the Customs Facility was an Economic Development Project - an economic windfall for Martin County that would produce jobs.
* We were assured that Federal and State Funding would fund building the Customs Facility with NO local money needed other than a small amount from the Airport Enterprise Fund. (20%)
* Were were assured that NO local taxpayer funding (ad valorum) would be used.
* We were told the facility would cost around $600 thousand to build, with the money to build to come from the FAA and the State Department of Transportation grants. (80/20)
* We were told the money to operate the facility ($200 thousand a year) would come from user fees with the majority of the funding being generated by the boating community (40% aircraft - 60% from boaters)
* Staff was asked to verify the Business Plan Report submitted by the Economic Development Council (EDC) as to the feasibility of a User Fee Customs Facility which they did with a positive report for building a customs facility which was presented to the Board of County Commissioners.
What is the truth? What does item 7A being brought forward tomorrow say?
* The Customs Facility is no longer being called and Economic Development Project to enhance our community - but is now being called an "Airport Enhancement".
* The Customs Facility is no longer being called a " Fee Based Customs Facility" it is now being called an "International Arrival Facility at Witham Field".
* The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) had denied any use of Federal Funding.
* The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had denied any FDOT funding if the Customs Facility is used for boaters - it MUST be used by aircraft only and they will only fund the facility at 50%
* Alan Bersin, Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection has denied the use of a Customs Facility at Witham Field for marine traffic including local boaters.
* The cost for building a Customs Facility has gone from $600 thousand to $1.25 million.
* Jobs are no longer the focus for the facility - Airport Enhancement is now the justification.
* Airport Staff and the Consultants failed to discover important facts which make a Customs Facility infeasible - for instance funding is not available in the FDOT 5 year plan.
* That US Customs regulations may be amended addressing Fee Based Customs Facilities, but no mention is made of the regulation change process which must be published, is long and requires public input - none of which has been done.
A customs facility at Witham Field is opposed by the Town of Sewall's Point, the Guardians of Martin County, the Consensus Organization, WAAM and local residents. Please join with us to also oppose this bad and expensive idea.
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Want to print out the comparison Flyer between John Wayne Airport vs. Witham Field?
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The Illegal Extension of Runway 12/30
This document presents in
detail, the Martin County Airport/Witham Field runway 12/30 extension
project approved and completed in 1998. The
To download and read the full text of the whitepaper including detailed
pictures - download this PDF file
What does the proposed Buyout Program mean to Martin County?
You only have to look South to:
Palm Beach County International (PBI) Home Buyout and Insulation Program
The answers received in response to WAAM's
questions are in Red
As a Martin County
property owner and taxpayer,