Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Make Noise over Craig Airport

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Make Noise over Craig Airport

Article excerpt

Some angry residents say the Jacksonville Port Authority is stifling debate on a master plan that would guide the development of Craig Airport for the next two decades.

About 50 people packed the old flight service building at the airport Tuesday night to attend a port authority-sponsored workshop, the second in a series of public meetings to tackle various issues, including the residents' concerns.

Instead of a traditional public presentation that allows questions in an open forum, port officials set up individual stations at which the public could discuss their concerns with assigned port officials. Each station included in the path of departing and arriving planes, said she was upset that airport officials did not allow an open forum at Tuesday's workshop.

"It's almost as if they're forcing this thing on us," Gerey said "We don't have a public voice right now."

Port officials defended the format, answering individual questions about such issues as noise levels, airport capacity, and alternatives to improving the runways.

"We get a lot of one-on-one contact," said Gary Duncan, the airport manager. "We get more complete feedback, as opposed to a few people speaking at a public forum."

In addition, workshop participants can write their comments on comment cards provided at the workshop. A citizen advisory panel is also helping the port authority solicit ideas from the community about future development.

Craig Airport, one of four airports managed by the port, is not a commercial airport. It currently serves about 400 flights a day, mostly single-engine planes and small corporate jets, with two 4,000-foot runways.

Port officials and airport users say the runways are inadequate to provide safety for traffic near the airport. Traffic has steadily risen as the economy and the population of the region grew over the years. …

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