A series of workshops Tuesday took place so architects could present several designs for a proposed new building for general aviation at the Ocala International Airport.
Meetings were held during the day for airport officials and for the Ocala City Council. The evening event was publicized as one where the general public could take part.
But at the evening meeting, some members of the public didn’t appear too interested in the designs. They were more interested in getting information about when commercial service would take place.
What they wanted to hear didn’t take place.
Matthew Grow, airport director, commented on the economics of the situation. “If the airlines thought they could make money, they’d be here already.”
One person from the audience said he was a lifelong resident of the area, and said he was disappointed that smaller communities had passenger service, and Ocala did not. He cited examples of Gainesville, St. Augustine and Punta Gorda.
Grow noted that there were nine airports within a reasonable distance of Ocala that had passenger service.
He said the impetus for commercial service would have to come from the citizens, who should get local businesses to push for expansion.
He added that the new building would have nothing to do with setting up passenger service.
While this new building would be at the SW 60th Avenue side of the airport, any commercial terminal, he said, would be at the west side, near the business park.
Getting back to the purpose of the meeting for the architects, Grow said that he had been wanting to build the new building for general aviation for almost the entire 12 years that he has been director.
At the moment the airport services are spread out, with Grow’s office not being in the same building where the meeting was held and where the Tradewinds restaurant is located.
All of these features as well as general aviation needs would be placed in the new building.
Those attending were given forms to fill out in which they could express preferences for which design they preferred. Some of the designs, however, were for a two-story building, which is unlikely, the architects said.