Vero Beach Airport to determine if water study can be done for neighbors

VERO BEACH — Vero Beach Municipal Airport officials will be checking into whether a study can be done on the groundwater in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Airport neighbor Florence Licata asked the Vero Beach City Council this week to perform a study of her community’s water, explaining that her neighborhood is heavily impacted by the flight training that occurs at the airport.

“We’re like at ground zero,” Licata said, explaining that the flight training creates “points of concentration” by minimizing airtime and fuel costs. “Our neighborhood gets the bulk of it.”

Airport Director Eric Menger told the council that he believes other, larger airports have conducted such water quality studies but has not yet looked into that process.

When asked about funding the study, Menger said that funding could be available if the study were incorporated into the environmental component of the airport’s master plan. However, he would have to talk to the funding agencies to determine how it would be taken care of.

“I personally would not recommend it,” Menger said of the city funding the study through its general fund as an alternative.

He explained that there could be a perception that a city-funded study would be biased and if the neighbors were to pay for the study, it could be seen as less biased.

Menger also said that the study could show there are contaminants in the ground water but questioned whether those contaminants could be traced back to the airport.

Along with asking for a study to be done, Licata asked the Vero Beach City Council to postpone its scheduled town hall meeting to discuss the airport.

A town hall meeting had been scheduled for Oct. 14, but given a Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council meeting to discuss airport compatibility is also set for the same day, Licata recommended that they hold off on the city meeting.

Mayor Kevin Sawnick and Councilman Ken Daige both supported moving the city’s town hall meeting to a later date. It has not yet been rescheduled.

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