Witham Airport Action Majority: Customs facility at community airport is a bad idea

While The Witham Airport Action Majority appreciates the concerns expressed in a letter to the editor written by Preserve Martin County in today’s Stuart News, we cannot agree with their recommendation to approve a customs facility at Witham Field.

There are a number of reasons why customs at our airport is a bad idea.

First and foremost, there is no proof that this facility will come close to being financially viable. In fact the opposite is true. One only has to look at the numbers presented by supporters of this facility  to see they don’t add up. Unfortunately, members of Preserve Martin County are under the impression that no tax dollars will be spent to build the customs facility. That is incorrect. Florida Department of Transportation Funds are tax dollars as are FAA funds. In the past, Martin County general tax funds have been used to support airport projects, so one cannot make the absolute assumption that local tax dollars will never be used again. Our community is not in a position to subsidize airport operators in order to enhance their profits, while at the same time producing little if any benefits to our residents.

Second, there has been no credible proof that having customs at Witham Field will provide a financial benefit to our local economy, only unsubstantiated claims, claims that are highly suspect at best.

In addition, increasing air traffic on an already highly impacted community would be wrong. Increased traffic, noise and pollution over neighborhoods NW and SE of the airport, downtown Stuart, Sewall’s Point, Sailfish Point and Rocky Point only to mention a few, moves us in the opposite direction that we have spent years trying to correct.

While the need for a customs facility for the boating community has yet to be proven, if such a need existed, customs should be located within easy reach to boaters; a location like Sandsprit Park which has docking facilities.

A customs Facility at Witham Field would only enhance the profits of the two Fixed Base Operators (FBO’S) at the airport, Stuart Jet and Galaxy Aviation, not the business community as a whole.

It is time this bad idea be put to rest once and for all.

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