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Groundwork set for Oceanside airport improvements

OCEANSIDE — Over the past four years major strides have been made toward establishing an airport master plan for Oceanside Municipal Airport. 

“It’s not the wow results,” Darcy Driscoll, Airport Property Ventures senior administrator, said. “It’s a lot of paperwork. It’s groundwork that needs to be laid, then we can start building improvements.”

Airport studies and community, pilot and Airport Authority input has been gathered on what should be improved and developed on the airport’s 43-acre grounds.

“We’ve done the first phase of the master plan,” Driscoll said. “To date we’ve gained data to enable us to move forward with actual types of solutions.”

The next step is to take the input and design a master plan. This phase will begin in January 2014 and be completed by July. It includes plan adoption and FAA approval.

“It considers what to put where, the airport as whole, and future use demands,” Driscoll said.

A master plan lets the FAA know that the city is vested in seeing through airport improvements. This helps the airport qualify for FAA funds.

Suggestions for the master plan so far have ranged from an airport restaurant, to a small businesses complex.

Driscoll said a final plan has not been determined, but what will likely get done first are needed runway paving and other maintenance projects that FAA funds will support.

Any revenue-generating improvements, such as a restaurant, are not eligible for FAA funds.

Improvement projects at the top of the list are repaving runways and taxiways, possible relocation of the self-serve fueling station, and improvements to the terminal building.

The 14.7 acres that the airport acquired still need to undergo environmental impact studies before plans to develop that property can be made. Additional hangers or aviation related businesses might be built on that property in the future.

Driscoll said there is still a bit of confusion about the airport since Airport Property Ventures was awarded a 50-year lease to manage it in September 2009. Driscoll said the airport is in full operation and will not shut down.

The length of its one runway will not be expanded to allow commercial flights. There simply is not sufficient room.

Since Airport Property Ventures took over management an airport layout plan was approved, perimeter fencing was put up, and six new hangers that range from 1,600-square feet to 1,800 square feet are near completion.

“There definitely was a lot of deferred maintenance we discovered when we took over,” Driscoll said. “The airport had tenants, but it was chocking itself to death.”

“We definitely put the airport on map with the FAA by communicating,” Driscoll added. “To update the layout plan was huge with the FAA. We got it chugging along again. Slow, steady we’ll get there.”

A workshop to review the proposed airport master plan is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 13 at City Council chambers.

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