Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Westside Keeps Posted on Spaceport; but Airport Officials Say No Decisions Have Been Made on Talk of Bringing Space Flight to Cecil Field

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Westside Keeps Posted on Spaceport; but Airport Officials Say No Decisions Have Been Made on Talk of Bringing Space Flight to Cecil Field

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

Westside residents were brought up to speed Saturday on the potential for a spaceport facility to be developed at Cecil Field, an industrial-focused airport in their back yard, even though the officials running the meeting said there wasn't much to tell.

"I stand before you this morning and tell you no decision has been made," said John Clark, executive director of the Jacksonville Airport Authority, which owns the airport that has been spoken of as a potential site for commercial flights into space.

Last week, the board of the Florida Space Authority instructed its staff to develop a marketing and a business plan for a spaceport somewhere in Florida. The state authority would work with the federal government to get licensing for the spaceport.

Although the board did not select a site during its meeting, it did review a consultant's report on spaceport development that called Cecil Field "the best airport for aircraft-like launches," primarily because of its 12,500-foot runway, one of the longest runways in the state not being used for passenger flights.

Before that meeting, the Jacksonville Airport Authority had met with a core group of residents representing the Better Westside Project and had promised to talk to a wider group afterwards.

Almost 100 residents showed up for Saturday's 1 1/2-hour event, held at the conference center at Cecil Field. Many of the questions asked by residents -- such as who would use a spaceport, how it would affect existing tenants, and how it might impact other uses of the site, went unanswered -- with airport officials saying it was simply too early in the process for specifics to be known.

"The Spaceport Authority has an interest in coming to Cecil Field," Clark said. "We have an interest in exploring their interest. …

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