ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Should St. Pete’s city-owned Albert Whitted Airport be used as something else? It’s a question Mayor Ken Welch’s administration wants to answer.
"In terms of equitable development, we need to assess what is the payback to the entire city," Welch explained to FOX 13. "Not just to a small group of pilots."
That group of pilots is not happy the mayor has decided to have two studies done on the impact of the airport. They think this is just the latest attempt to shut it down.
Jack Tunstill, with the airport advisory committee, said if changes were to be made to the airport, they’d be years from now.
The airport is locked in a 20-year agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration which gave it millions of dollars for upgrades.
Mayor welch told FOX 13 this week, that he would not want the site to be turned into high-rise condos.
The mayor said he understands the pilot’s concerns.
"I would say the conversation needs to happen," Welch offered. "I know some folks don’t want a conversation to happen, but this is city-owned property. This is the people’s airport."
Mayor Welch has also floated the idea of transforming part of the site into an area for companies to test "passenger drones" – as they inch closer to FAA approval.
"From what I’ve seen, you don’t need big runways for that," he said.
The mayor said there’s no timeline for the airport study to be complete.