Punta Gorda Airport commissioners disagreed on whether the new terminal design for non-airline flights makes the right statement.
It doesn’t make much of a statement, said Robert Hancik, Charlotte County Airport Authority commissioner.
“It’s pretty much a Plain Jane,” said Hancik, at the authority meeting last week.
The airport presented its proposed terminal design earlier this month. The $16.4 million project is not for the terminal used by Allegiant Air passengers, which is not slated to be replaced. The general aviation terminal, as it is called, is used by all the other private planes, including corporate jets. General aviation represents fewer people than Allegiant carries, but a lot more planes taking off and landing.
“You’ve got to take care of the demands of the people that are using the airport,” Hancik told the Sun of the need for a general aviation terminal.
The proposed terminal adds more space for fueling, for pilots who are waiting for their corporate passengers to conclude their business, for a restaurant, and for flight school instructor offices. Many of these operations will be leasing from the airport.
Hancik said he hopes the design will attract a good restaurant for a local population that likes to dine with a view of the runways.
Allegiant’s increasing traffic did influence the need for a new general aviation terminal, Hancik said. The new terminal will move to new location that will allow for future expansion of commercial airline operations, Hancik said. That includes Allegiant or any future commercial airline that decides to use Punta Gorda airport as a hub.
As for the terminal design, Hancik told his fellow commissioners that a new building is an opportunity for an airport and a community to make a statement. The new design does not do that, he believes. It is too much roof, he said.
Other commissioners disagreed on the need to make an architectural statement.
“The statement that we make is that we are an airport that operates in a cost-effective and efficient manner,” said Commissioner Paul Andrews.
“I personally like the design,” said Commissioner James Herston.
Naples built an architectural statement for its general aviation terminal, Hancik said.
Chairwoman and Commissioner Pam Seay pointed out that Naples is one of the highest-cost real estate markets in the country.
“I don’t think the people of Charlotte County would appreciate if we spent an overwhelming amount of money on a government building,” she said.
The public can still comment on the new terminal proposal by sending comments to RRidenour@flyPGD.com. The design is not expected to be complete until April, with construction to begin in September. Much of the cost would be covered by federal grants, with the rest coming from the commercial passenger facility charge. That fee is going up in January from $2 to $4.50 per flight.
Annual parking passes will be back at the Punta Gorda Airport, but at a premium.
The new fee will be $1,000 a year and limited to 100 people.
Airport CEO James Parish told commissioners that he had cancelled the annual pass, which was limited to less than 80 cars with about 35 on the waiting list. Given the parking shortage that the airport is experiencing, he said he thought this was a good idea. But the complaints were hard on airport staff.
“We have received some angry responses to that,” Parish said.
Most of the annual pass holders are snowbirds, Parish said, or people who only live here in the winter.
The commission voted unanimously to allow the reinstatement of annual passes and fees.
Parish also said he will improve the entrance and exit technology to use affixed electronic stickers that cannot be transferred from one car to another.