Say NO now to unnecessary customs facility or ruin Martin’s community-friendly airport

Martin County Witham Field Airport Manager George Stokus was named 2014 Business Advocate of The Year by The Palm City Chamber of Commerce. (Source: Palm City Spotlight)

 

The Martin County Airport Customs facility will be back before the Commission at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 5.

In a recent letter to Witham Field Airport Manager George Stokus and Martin County Commissioners, David Shore of the airport watchdog group Witham Airport Action Majority, warned of the unwanted and unneeded customs facility that will forever change Martin’s community-friendly airport:

I want to thank you for arranging a meeting this past Friday to discuss customs. Until Friday’s meeting, I had not been privy to the progress made with respect to customs.
Based on our conversation, you and county staff members have obviously put in a tremendous amount of time and work doing a feasibility study to determine whether or not a customs facility would be financially viable at Witham Field.


Although I am sure your intentions are sincere, I have looked at the numbers and still cannot see how customs would be of value to our airport and our community as a whole- both from a financial standpoint and from the standpoint of the harm I believe it will bring to our community.  The numbers in my opinion just don’t show that we can financially support a customs facility. I also believe that the increase in airport operations would be detrimental to Martin County residents. I also see a lot of the previously submitted work done by David Smith in the current study – data that I believe is for the most part, unreliable.

You said that the “Marine Alliance” has once again offered financial help to support the customs facility. $50,000 a year for 3 years I believe is the number you quoted.  This may sound comforting to some, but the lack of enforcement on their proposed agreement appears to me as being totally valueless.  I also believe, even if the airport were to actually receive the promised $50K per year, that would still not be enough to financially protect Martin County.

As I explained at Friday’s meeting, I do not believe that our community as a whole supports customs at Witham Field. The only folks I see strongly supporting a customs facility are a small group that will see a direct financial benefit, certainly not a good reason for our county commissioners to support the proposed facility.

Another reason I believe that our community should reject a customs facility would be the almost immediate start of “scheduled” airline service to Witham Field.  As you and I both know, our airport operates under part 135 regulations which allow scheduled airline service with less than 10 passengers.  I am not sure our commissioners are fully aware of this and being so informed, would be less than eager to approve a customs facility at the airport.


Witham Field being an “International Airport” with scheduled service 9 passengers today will lead to scheduled airline service with no passenger limits tomorrow.  That is what I believe will be the result of approving customs.

Again I want to thank you for arranging the meeting between you, Sarah Woods and myself this past Friday.

Sincerely,
David Shore

Please attend the Tuesday meeting if you can or let commissioners know how you feel by e-mailing them (with copies to the County Attorney and County Administrator) at: sheard@martin.fl.us, efieldin@martin.fl.us, ascott@martin.fl.us, jhaddox@martin.fl.us, mdurham@martin.fl.us, tkryzda@martin.fl.us.

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