Vero Beach officials consider special meeting to discuss airport issues

VERO BEACH – After several Vero Beach residents spoke before the Vero Beach City Council this week about concerns they have with the Vero Beach Municipal Airport, council members discussed holding a town hall meeting or similar forum to address the issues.

“Obviously council, there seems to be a problem,” Councilman Ken Daige said during a recent council meeting. Residents Florence Licata, Toni DeBaise and Nancy Wood gave a three-pronged presentation before the council, spelling out the problems they have with the airport.

Chief among them is safety.

“You truly have not lived,” said Licata, until you experience a student pilot cutting the engine above you to simulate a stall. “One can only pray the engine starts up again.”

“These students are terrorizing our city,” she added.

The issue many of the residents addressed hinged on the pilot training done at the municipal airport.

Licata asked the council to add a question to the municipal election ballot this November asking residents if they want the airport any longer.

The airport is a “scourge on the beauty, tranquility and safety of the community,” she said.

DeBaise told the council that there are just too many flights in and out of the airport – especially for the training when the pilots circle overhead.

“This is a normal life for me and this is what I live with,” she said, after counting off numerous low-level flights over her home in a short span of time.

“I have no haven,” DeBaise said.

Councilman Tom White suggested the city hold a town hall meeting or special meeting to address the residents’ concerns and inform the public about the airport.

Resident Ken Bennett told the council he has lived in Vero Beach for 30 years, and when he moved here, he moved close to the airport.

Bennett explained that the airport that operated 30 years ago is not the same that runs today.

“It used to be just little puddle-jumpers,” Bennett said – and the biggest thing to come through the airport was the Dodgers.

With as built up as the city is, Bennett recommended the flight training take place west of Interstate 95 where there are far fewer people in the area.

While the council entertained the idea of having a special public meeting to continue the discussion of the airport’s impacts on the community, no date has been set.

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