Thu, Feb 26, 2004
Agency Wants Fee From Tennis Court On Pensacola Airport
The FAA wants Pensacola
(FL) to collect an annual rent -- an amount that could reach nearly
$80,000 -- for a city tennis court on city airport property. Old
maps show the site of the 16-acre Roger Scott Tennis Center on land
belonging to the Pensacola Regional Airport, City Attorney Don
Caton told a City Council committee.
"We can't go back and say `Oops, a mistake was made,' " Caton
Federal grant agreements with the FAA require all airport
property be used to benefit the airport, according to a letter from
FAA program manager William E. Farris.
"While we can certainly appreciate the airport's desire to
provide goodwill to the community, the airport is obligated to use
its existing property to satisfy aviation demand or generate
revenue to make the airport as self-sustaining as possible," Farris
Caton recommended that the city cough up the $77,529 annual
payment rather than sue the FAA because losing in court could cost
at least $5 million. The FAA also wants the city to take another
costly step by relocating recreational ball fields near the airport
based on a 1947 agreement that transferred the then-surplus federal
land to the city.
The agreement allows temporary use for non-aeronautical
purposes, but Farris wrote that the land appears to be in a prime
area for aviation ventures and that the city should make plans for
such use. Hundreds of adults and children use the 17-acre area for
baseball, softball and football.
"We would have to acquire land, and I don't know where we would
get it," Councilman Jack Nobles said.
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