Santa Rosa tour seeks to sell lawmakers on $5 million aviation park allocation

Dave Murzin, State Rep. Mike Hill, Whiting Field Naval Air Station commanding officer Capt. Todd Bahlau, Rep. Doug Broxson, and Santa Rosa County Commissioner Don Salter.

Two state lawmakers toured Santa Rosa County’s Whiting Aviation Park on Monday as part of an effort to persuade the Legislature to allocate nearly $5 million toward the industrial park’s development.

Santa Rosa County Commission Chairman Don Salter hosted state Reps. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, and Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, on what the county called a “legislative delegation tour,” according to a news release.

Dave Murzin, a legislative aide to state Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, also participated in the tour, as did Whiting Field Naval Air Station commander Capt. Todd Bahlau.

Whiting Aviation Park was created by a unique limited use agreement between the Navy and Santa Rosa County in 2009, but little has been done since to develop the site.  The park is 269 acres adjacent to Whiting Field, with access to one of the base’s 6,000-foot runway. It is intended to serve military-related aviation industries and other businesses that need access to an airstrip.

Whiting_aviation_park_rendering“The project would not only help protect the industry that has brought over 14,000 jobs and that has an economic impact of $1.1 billion per year, but has the ability to transform economic development through above-average paying job creation in Santa Rosa County and Northwest Florida,” according to the news release from Santa Rosa County Public Information Officer Joy Tsubooka.

The county is asking for about $4.9 million over two years in special legislative appropriations for Phase 1 and partial Phase 2 of the park.

Phase 1 would develop detailed construction plans,, updated construction cost estimates, a comprehensive utility development plan and optional bidding scenarios to support development of the park.

Phase 2 would include construction of the infrastructure improvements which would include improvements and construction of taxiways, construction of a south entrance road and public ramp grading and paving.

“With runway access, monitored airspace,  (good) flight conditions over 300 days each year, and with the six county area having the highest concentration of military retirees in the U.S. creating an available workforce, the future of Whiting Aviation Park offers a unique opportunity for aviation related companies in Santa Rosa County,” Tsubooka wrote.