Andrew Holesko, V.P. Program Manager for Passero Associates, made it clear it was time to get to work on solid goals that will achieve the best Master Plan possible. He asked the committee to help by not only identifying “good, reasonable ideas for Fernandina Beach,” but also keeping ideas that are bad for the city out of the plan.
Discussions followed that addressed critical elements including updating the airport with run-up areas on all six ends (as every other airport now has); adding a non-commercial terminal/welcome center; addressing fixed operation needs such as additional hangars; replacing the outdated maintenance building and fuel tanks; and utilizing an FDOT grant to improve fencing and security.
The team also agreed on choosing the Gulfstream G-IV as its critical aircraft. This decision will help improve current operations, as the airport is now using only 28 percent of its capacity. The G-IV is actually quieter than smaller jets and will finally justify a runway extension that has been in the existing Master Plan since the 1960s.
Gulfstream G-IVs have been using the Fernandina airport since their inception, but they aren’t able to take on enough fuel before departure to fly non-stop coast to coast. The runway extension would solve that problem and provide a substantial economic boost to the airport and the city. It would also reduce noise from smaller aircraft using the longer runway, since they would reach higher altitudes before flying over populated areas outside airport boundaries.
The team discussed further economic development with the help of Ken Creveling from Urbanomics, a Florida-based urban and real estate economic consulting firm. Creveling identified three geographical areas on airport property that are ideal for diverse economic development. Opportunities include restaurants, office space and travel-related sales space.
Creveling painted a realistic picture of small-scale development (5,000-80,000 square feet) connected by clean, curbed streets and manicured landscapes. He noted that by using more brick and mortar and less metal, the airport could be home to an attractive and modern business park unrivaled in Nassau County. These new areas can be made more accessible by connecting nearby roads such as Bailey and Jamestown directly to airport property.
A re-branding of the airport and its new amenities is an absolute necessity. The team will continue work on the new economic and development plans that will enhance the airport’s image. The intended results are a cleaner, brighter and more functional space for both locals and visitors – and the long-awaited arrival of more high-wage jobs to Fernandina Beach.
Working on behalf of the City, Passero Associates communicates to the City of Fernandina Beach, its citizens and Municipal Airport stakeholders, the ongoing process of developing a master plan for FHB. This planning process will be periodically reported to the public in the form of meetings to be held in Fernandina Beach. The FHB Communications Plan involves conducting and documenting five public meetings and distributing concise summaries to the public via periodic press releases; email; social media; and a website: http://www.fbfl.us/airportplanningproject
For more information on the planning process, please contact Zach Nelson at (904) 757-6106 or email to FBmasterplan@yahoo.com