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City of Naples office elections are heating up

and so is the controversy over the Naples Airport location
Naples office candidates fight for Naples Airport to stay put
Posted at 11:16 PM, Feb 28, 2024

NAPLES, Fla. — A topic with plenty of people on both sides of the aisle. Whether or not to move the Naples Airport that has been in its current location since the 1940s.

"You can't go west because the Gulf is there you; can't go south because the Gulf; North is where Fort Myers is; to the East is protected wetlands," said Stephen Myers, Executive VP Elite Jets. "Where do you think that they could move it to? I think that there's a few people that are vocal minorities and I would venture to guess that every one of them the airport was here before they moved here."

It has become a topic of debate among those vying to win public office. With many at Wednesday nights' forum, their main reason for keeping the airport put is the economic impact.

F-DOT says the wide-ranging impact of the Naples Airport, even without large commercial jet traffic, brings thousands of jobs to the area.

In the year before Hurricane Ian, the Naples Airport saw an average of about 260 landings and takeoffs per day, about one every few minutes. The main complaint from homeowners nearby.

"If you'd have looked up when you were looking at your house, you'd have realized that there is going to be airplane traffic," said Tony Perez-Benitoa, Council candidate. "To either redirect the traffic or move it now, I think is inappropriate because it impacts other people's property rights."

All three candidates claim that with a "higher faster," change this could fix the noise issue. However, the FAA regulations do not currently allow this.

"The FAA claims safety, and don't get me wrong that safety is important, but safety is what they're claiming is the reason that we don't want to do that," said Berne Barton, Council candidate. "I'm not entirely sure that's an accurate statement."

Trying to create a solution and with a tight race, Price says it is time for change.

"If their audience is pro-airport, they tend to be pro-airport. If it's anti-airport, they tend to be anti-airport," said Gary Price, Mayoral candidate. "I'm going to be always pro-airport. I'm a tenant here. I'm a pilot. I love this airport. I love what it does for our community. I'm not changing that and I'm going to fight to make sure it stays here."