WAAM is a coalition of concerned citizens promoting a community-friendly airport

President Dave Shore and the Board of Directors of the Witham Airport Action Majority (WAAM) lead a coalition of concerned citizens, 100% volunteer, dedicated to keeping Martin County’s airport a community-friendly general aviation airport. Over 2,000 Martin County residents look to WAAM for guidance and leadership for current information and action regarding both airport and local issues; membership is open to the public.

Most recently WAAM has established a FaceBook presence: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Witham-Airport-Action-Majority/523067767730207?fref=ts Shore urges residents to log on, and also to check out the WAAM website at http://www.WAAM.org, providing both new and archived information from this longtime Martin County grassroots organization.

Shore adds that: currently WAAM is concerned with a Customs Facility being pushed by local airport operators and airport staff that has become a financial boondoggle. Everything we were told about this project appears to have been pie in the sky guesstimates including the report from the consultants that were hired by Martin County to examine the feasibly of a fee based Customs Facility at Witham Field.

A customs facility will have little or no financial benefit to our community (it only enhances the profits of our local Fixed Base Operators (FBO’s) while at the same time, it increases air traffic at our airport, but it does increase noise and pollution while negatively impacting our lives and property values.

Decreased property values for communities within a 5 mile radius of the airport can be substantial. Many residents are not aware that a 5 mile radius includes the City of Stuart, Palm City, the Town of Sewall’s Point and Jensen Beach. As traffic increases at the airport, noise and pollution levels within the 5 mile radius increase substantially as traffic increases. Home values decrease even further. If you are not bothered by the airport now, you can expect that to change in the future if the airport continues to grow.

When proposed, residents were told that the Customs Facility was an Economic Development Project – an economic windfall for Martin County that would produce jobs. We were assured that Federal and State Funding would fund building the Customs Facility with NO local money needed other than a small amount from the Airport Enterprise Fund (50%). We were assured that NO local taxpayer funding (ad valorum) would be used. We were told the facility would cost less than $800 thousand to build. We were told the money to operate the facility ($200 thousand a year) would come from user fees with the majority of the funding being generated by the boating community (40% aircraft – 60% from boaters) Staff was asked to verify the Business Plan Report submitted by the Economic Development Council (EDC) as to the feasibility of a User Fee Customs Facility which they did with a positive report for building a customs facility which was presented to the Board of County Commissioners.

What is the truth?

The Customs Facility is no longer being called an Economic Development Project to enhance our community – but is now being called an “Airport Enhancement”. The Customs Facility is no longer being called a ” Fee Based Customs Facility”  it is now being called an “International Arrival Facility at Witham Field”. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) had denied any use of Federal Funding. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had denied any FDOT funding if the Customs Facility is used for boaters – it MUST be used by aircraft only and they will only fund the facility at 50%. Alan Bersin, Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection has denied the use of a Customs Facility at Witham Field for marine traffic including local boaters. The cost for building a Customs Facility has gone from $600 thousand to $1.25 million. Jobs are no longer the focus for the facility – Airport Enhancement is now the justification. Airport Staff and the Consultants failed to discover important facts which make a Customs Facility infeasible – for instance funding is not available in the FDOT 5 year plan. That US Customs regulations may be amended addressing Fee Based Customs Facilities, but no mention is made of the regulation change process which must be published, is long and requires public input – none of which has been done.

 Please join with us to also oppose this bad and expensive idea. Call 283-9777 for more information.

 

 

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