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"OCEANSIDE: Airport improvements finally taking off"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

OCEANSIDE: Airport improvements finally taking off
The San Diego North County Times

After nearly two years of unexpected setbacks, managers of the Oceanside
Municipal Airport said plans are back on track to turn the aging general
aviation airport into the top-notch operation the city wants.
"I think people will be very proud of their airport down there," said Jack
Driscoll, a principal of Airport Property Ventures, the Los Angeles company
that took over airport operations in 2009 under a 50-year lease with the
"It's a nice little airport. It's just old and tired and uncared for,"
Driscoll said in an interview Friday.
City Councilman Jerry Kern, who has been a strong advocate for airport
improvements, said, "Now we have a clear path forward."
"All the pieces are in place to actually make a go of it," Kern said in an
interview. "In the next five years, we will see a dramatic improvement in
the airport."
Starting this summer, the airport will get some of that needed care when
Airport Ventures is expected to start construction on 10 hangars at the east
The new hangars will be in two buildings, with five hangars in each,
Driscoll said. He said they will cost an estimated $700,000, but none of
that will come from the city.
When its lease was approved, Airport Ventures committed to investing $21
million in the airport.
"If everything went perfectly, we'd probably have them built by the end of
the year," Driscoll said.
Originally, the hangars should have been done by now, but Driscoll and city
property manager Doug Eddow said unforeseen problems kept cropping up. 
The old concrete pads on which the hangars will be built had to be
reinspected after Airport Ventures took over the airport and cleared to make
sure they met building standards; an airport layout plan had to be
completed, delineating its boundaries; and plans had to be developed to put
in new water lines to the hangars, as well as a fire hydrant.
At the Federal Aviation Administration's request, Airport Ventures is
issuing a request for proposals by consultants to produce a new master plan
that will show how the airport will be redeveloped.
The last master plan was completed in 1997 and doesn't take into account
changing standards and improved technology.
Among other things, the FAA is now requiring that taxiways be relocated
farther from the airport's single runway. Tests will be needed to determine
whether the airport's 3,000-foot runway must be repaved or torn up and
completely rebuilt, Driscoll said.
"We may have to take everything out and replace it," he said. "There's no
safety issue. It's just old and in need of repair."
Driscoll said state and federal grants will cover most of the costs, which
he said could easily run into "millions of dollars."
The city could be required to kick in about 5 to 10 percent of the cost of
some of the rehabilitation work, but that will be covered by revenue
generated by the airport and won't affect the city's general fund, Driscoll
The general fund covers most day-to-day city functions except water, sewer
and harbor operations.
Along with upgrading the airport runway and taxiways, Driscoll said 11
hangars will have to be torn down.
"They're just totally deteriorated. The roofs leak, with big holes in them,"
he said. "There was no maintenance for years and years and years."
Built in 1963, the airport has 68 planes that use it as home base, with an
average of 19 takeoffs or landings daily, Eddow said in a March 14 report. 
Under federal regulations, the airport can handle only small
propeller-driven airplanes.
As the airport is redeveloped, Kern and others see it becoming another
attraction for the city.
At a March 14 City Council meeting, Oceanside Airport Association President
Gordon Nesbitt said he foresees the airport becoming "a portal for
aviation-related tourism."

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