Some Davis Islands residents fret that the extension will result in more noise.
By MARK HOLAN
The Tampa Tribune
DAVIS ISLANDS - Aviation officials plan to extend a runway 175 feet closer to some houses near Peter O. Knight Airport.
Some residents say they are concerned about safety and noise, while others support the project.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which owns the airport, says the extension is required to meet safety standards on runway 03-21, the larger and busier of two runways at Peter O. Knight.
Louis Miller, the authority's executive director, said the agency originally wanted to extend the northeast end of the runway by filling in part of the Seddon Channel but was blocked by the Tampa Port Authority, which owns property across the waterway.
"We want to maintain the runway so we don't eliminate any airplanes that are using the airport today," Miller told about 50 people at a community meeting Tuesday night.
The extension area at the southwest end of the runway is grass. The work is primarily required to provide extra pavement for planes that have to abort a takeoff from the northeast. It also means planes taking off from the southwest will start closer to houses.
Miller said his staff conducted tests in June and August that show the extension will probably mean a few extra decibels of noise along Severin and Martinique avenues, but not as much as a passing tour bus or lawnmower.
"In our mind it's not a major impact," Miller said.
Several residents were skeptical, however, and about three-dozen people signed a petition calling for the airport to reduce noise.
Some residents also voiced displeasure with the authority's plans to build hangars along the Seddon Channel side of the property, saying the buildings will be an eyesore and will block their view of the water.
They said both projects cater to a minority who use the airport at the expense of a majority who live in the neighborhood or visit the adjoining city park.
The 1935 airport predates most houses on Davis Islands.
Miller said the authority has been a good neighbor, years ago agreeing not to build hangars on the parkland or along South Davis Boulevard. He said the airport has rejected development proposals.
Bob Bolt, a pilot and 31-year resident of Davis Islands, described the airport property as "a glorified park."
"If you don't think it could be worse if that airport pulled out, you're kidding yourself," he said. "It's the lesser of evils."
The $1.8 million runway project is expected to be completed by next summer. The first new hangar isn't expected to open until 2009.
Reporter Mark Holan can be reached at (813) 835-2102 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Hillsborough County Aviation Authority
Photo: The Peter O. Knight extension is required to meet safety standards on the larger and busier of the airport's two runways.
Photo: Louis Miller
"In our mind it's not a major impact," he says.
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