Runway into bay at Albert Whitted? Not likely
By JON WILSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- The committee looking at Albert Whitted Airport's future isn't likely to recommend runway extensions into Tampa Bay.
An extension of up to 1,720 feet into Tampa Bay would produce a 5,350-foot runway, big enough to handle business jets. That was one of the concepts a consultant presented to the committee a few weeks ago.
But the idea didn't fly with every committee member, airport director M.O. Burgess said last week.
"There was some concern raised by several individuals," Burgess said.
More discussion with the consultant, LPA Group of Orlando, is scheduled and more options may be forthcoming. A public meeting about the airport probably will be scheduled before Thanksgiving, said Burgess. The City Council will have a chance to contemplate any recommendations.
The consultant originally presented four concepts, including several that discussed runway extensions and one that focused on a "no-build solution" that would make almost no changes at the airport.
A 5,350-foot runway is "possible but not realistic," Burgess said. For one thing, it would require giving up a taxiway, "giving up land for the existing facility," Burgess said.
"We have very limited area in which to do that," Burgess said.
Albert Whitted is about 17 acres.
As is, it has an economic impact of about $25-million yearly in goods, services and salaries, Burgess said.
"I don't know the public as a whole really has an appreciation of what the airport is to the community," he said.
Snell Isle resident Sally Morse was running near the North Shore Park seawall about noon Thursday when she spied a small shark cruising the shallows in clear water just a few yards offshore.
About 3 feet long, the shark flicked here and there, probably searching for food. A passer-by joined Morse. There was much speculation about the species.
It was probably a bonnethead, said Tampa BayWatch director Peter Clark. He also has seen them off North Shore and watched them come nosing around while he is working in seagrass beds.
"It's pretty common for people to see one and think it's a baby hammerhead," Clark said.
Bonnetheads have a long nose and a shovel-shaped head, and are in fact related to the hammerhead. But they don't bother humans, Clark said.
The one Morse saw was big enough to be an adult, Clark said. Baby bonnetheads are much smaller.
Dredges, barges and tugs are at work in Bayboro Harbor, digging out parts of the basin channel to 24 feet. Considered a maintenance job, it's the first such project in several years, said port marketing assistant Joan McGowan.
The stuff from the bottom is being dumped into a barge, which will take it to Egmont Key to help shore up the beaches and protect the old fort there.
The project, expected to make it easier for ships to get in and out of the harbor, started about two weeks ago and is expected to last through January.
The city marina's transient docks are already filled for Super Bowl week, McGowan said.
Four yachts, the biggest 148 feet, are coming in for the festivities. Officials are contemplating whether the Port of St. Petersburg, on Eighth Avenue SE, can accommodate more.
About 2,000 motorcycles hit The Pier last Sunday, one of two bike events held each year before major motorcycle festivals in Daytona Beach.
"It's our tenants' favorite event," Pier manager William Griffith said of the motorcycle gathering. "The important thing is, (riders) spend money, not just for food and drink, but in the retail shops."
On Oct. 27, The Pier gets another hot event -- literally.
Bill Wharton and the Ingredients is a musical group that makes a huge pot of gumbo while performing. The concert is tied into the Fiery Foods Show the same night at Bayfront Center.
And by the way: The Hurricane Classic of offshore powerboat racing is coming up Nov. 13-19, with races scheduled the last two days.
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