Below is a statement from Friends of the Everglades board member, Alan Farago, on general aviation at the Homestead Air Reserve Base.
October 13, 2020
CONTACT: Alan Farago, 305-778-8765
STATEMENT ON GENERAL AVIATION AT THE HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE
A potential re-use of the Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB), wedged between two national parks, is back on the table.
Last week Miami-Dade County Commissioners approved a resolution to negotiate a “joint use agreement” with the U.S. Air Force for a fixed base operation (FBO) at the air base. Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava added an amendment to the Moss resolution restricting operations to “general aviation.”
Critics note that “general aviation” may not stop cargo traffic and, on questioning, the county attorney seemed to agree. The Cava amendment will block negotiation for commercial or “scheduled” cargo operations. However, some cargo could be permitted depending on the certification sought by Miami Dade.
Twenty years ago, citizens and environmentalists fought Miami-Dade County on its plan to privatize a large portion of HARB for a major commercial airport. Based on an exhaustive federal review, the Air Force decided to prohibit the Miami-Dade airport plan.
Commissioners Pepe Diaz and Joe Martinez argued that capacity is needed to meet “ever-expanding” aviation needs including Latin American and African trade. Commissioner Martinez said, the runway at the air base is long enough to handle even the space shuttle. Mayor Carlos Gimenez offered “environmental benefits”: large private jets would not have to reposition to fuel. However, the Miami Executive Airport is only 17 miles away from HARB and handles large private jets.
For many, the logic echoed Miami-Dade’s earlier misdirection.
According to a press report, the county is asking for 20,000 flight operations per year. The public was surprised to learn that commissioners, the Miami Dade Aviation Director and Mayor Gimenez have already made “many” visits to Washington D.C. With the help of Senator Marco Rubio, Dade officials met with the Secretary of the Air Force to discuss the air base. The public was not notified.
The commissioners and Mayor Gimenez did acknowledge significant “concern” expressed by citizens. In the end, Mayor Gimenez offered his support for Cava’s friendly amendment: pass a resolution to support general aviation and argue about cargo later.
The result of ongoing negotiations between the Air Force and County will be brought back for public comment. Friends of the Everglades is alert to any outcomes that threaten the Air Force Record of Decision on HARB.
Alan Farago, Board of Directors