Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

High-Speed Airport Eyed for Cecil Field

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

High-Speed Airport Eyed for Cecil Field

Article excerpt

Cecil Field, a 21st century airport for international flights.

It may sound farfetched, but there are some people actually

talking to city officials about just such a plan.

They say they want to buy Cecil Field -- all 17,600 acres of it

-- to develop an international airport at the naval air station,

which is scheduled to close in 1998.

The offer apparently is serious enough that it lured Mayor John

Delaney in to the office from his vacation this week. Delaney

and other city officials met with a group representing an

unidentified Fortune 500 company interested in the site. The

group also was to meet with City Council President Eric Smith.

The company apparently likes Cecil Field because of its size

and the length of its runways, which could accommodate the next

generation of supersonic transports, both passenger and cargo

planes.

As envisioned, those 21st century transports would fly five

times faster than the speed of sound and travel from

Jacksonville to Tokyo in less than three hours. The location of

the base would enable the aircraft to maintain their top speeds

until they near the coast.

City officials say they're cautiously interested and want to

hear more. They turned down a plan to build a state prison at

the base in the face of opposition from Westside residents.

Finding a new use for the Westside base is near the top of the

city's to-do list.

The idea for an international airport, or "North Florida

Worldport," as it is described in one proposal, surfaced

recently during meetings of the Cecil Field Development

Commission. Two firms, Prosser, Hallock & Kristoff and TriState

Planning & Engineering, submitted a proposal to the Jacksonville

Port Authority.

This week's meetings at City Hall moves the proposal forward.

City officials have asked for assurances that the offer is

legitimate and that the company has the assets to complete such

a deal. …

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