Budget conference: Legislature giving flight to $7.1M Crystal River Airport renovation

About 40% of airport operations are related to flight training.

The Florida Senate has convinced the House to provide a $7.1 million appropriation for the Crystal River Airport, a move approved by the lower chamber in its latest bump offer. The Senate held strong in keeping the appropriation in each budget offer, despite the House excluding it in its counter offers.

The funding would be used for a runway extension and environmental assessment at the airport, as detailed in appropriation requests (SF 1704HB 4987) filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley and Rep. Ralph Massullo.

Sunrise Consulting lobbyist Gene McGee championed the funding on behalf of the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners, according to the request.

The state funding would account for the whole of the project. Of the funds requested, $4.8 million would be used for construction; $1.8 million would be used for the environmental assessment and land acquisition; and $500,000 would be used for the project design.

The project includes a 645-foot extension to runway 9-27, according to the requests, which would bring it into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration code (Advisory Circular 150/5325-4B). The extension would also accommodate the runway length requirements for the design aircraft operations at the Crystal River Airport. The renovations would also include lighting and marking changes.

The project will also require an environmental assessment to approve the removal of 11 acres of wetlands within the Runway Object Free Area (ROFA), according to the request. The assessment will also be needed for the acquisition of 10.2 acres of land to accommodate the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ).

The goal of the runway extension is to “attract more aircraft operations otherwise constrained by weight limits,” according to the request. By doing so, the airport hopes to impact the economy by bringing more visitors to the community and local businesses.

The two-runway airport is located on a 196 acre site three miles south of the Crystal River Business District. About 40% of airport operations are related to flight training, and another 30% comprise business flights, according to the airport site. Another 25% of operations come from transient users.

The airport is also conveniently located to support public service functions of search and rescue, MedEvac, forestry and fish and wildlife surveys that account for approximately 5% of the operations.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


  • Rick Kells

    March 7, 2022 at 5:32 am

    So now the runway extension gets approved because of weight restrictions? The citizens of Crystal Paradise Estates were told multiple excuses.
    Maybe Sen. Baxley and Rep Massullo should do a study on the impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
    Complaints range from noise abatement, low flying aircraft and failure to remain in flight paths!
    Complaints to the FAA resulted in good ol’ boy responses.

  • Tim Smith

    March 7, 2022 at 7:27 am

    I concur with Mr. Kells statement. I myself have complained to the Orlando office of the FAA about low flying aircraft over my home and departing planes not remaining on the assigned flight path. I also tried to get some relief from the airport manager asking if he could instruct the pilots to remain in the flight path when taking off rather than coming to the edge of the airport property and flying next to the street I live on, Flight Path Ct. The results were that it only got worse proving to me the residents of Citrus County complaints and concerns go unheard as long as certain special interest groups get there way.
    What good is spending that kind of money on something that does not benefit the voting majority of Citrus county for a pipe dream of a few.

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