Marci Shatzman SUN-SENTINEL (FL)
Airport control tower not a done deal
May 22, 2013
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  • The federal money to pay for the control tower at Boca Raton Airport may have come through for now, but the airport authority isn’t counting on budget money past Sept. 30.

    Five vendors have responded to a request for qualifications, the first of a two-step process to find and possibly hire a company to run the tower at 3700 Airport Road, one of 149 airports threatened by a sequester budget cut for the towers only.

    The Federal Aviation Administration came through with the funds under the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 through the rest of the fiscal year, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s office announced on April 26. But that doesn’t mean the Boca Raton Airport Authority is suspending its contingency plans.

    “The battle has not been won,” authority chairman Frank Feiler said at the May 15 meeting in City Council chambers. “Pressure remains to stay on top on this.”

    The authority’s attorney Dawn Meyers said she heard from four of the five vendors who responded to a request for qualifications, and asked them to leave sealed proposals that would still be valid. “We can pick up where we left off,” she said.

    The authority also filed a brief. “I assume we are still in litigation and must continue on if the FAA rescinds funding on Oct. 1,” Meyers added.

    Feiler and other authority members have said with Interstate 95, housing and Florida Atlantic University with the stadium so close by, that closing the control tower would become a safety hazard. And with less corporate jet traffic and less fuel and services bought from tenants, not having a tower would impact economic development.

    President Barack Obama’s budget only proposes paying for the contract tower if sequester funding is removed, which isn’t likely, authority secretary and treasurer Bruce Benefield reported.

    “We will continue and we can’t be asleep at the switch,” Feiler said.

    In other business, the authority approved renewing its insurance policy at a higher premium that includes acts of terrorism. The coverage is for more than $2.8 million with a premium of $96,308 vs. $91,740 without it, authority member Gene Folden reported.

    The difference is so small, it didn’t make sense for the authority not to be covered, said member Paul Carman before the vote.

    There’s a $10,000 deductible for wind and hail. Alex Blodgett, the authority’s insurance broker, told them “the quote came in not saying a named storm.”

    “A few years ago, [the federal agency] FEMA stepped up to cover some deductible costs and I can’t answer if the government would step up in your behalf” in the case of another storm, he added.,0,6437271.story