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A California-based consultant has suggested four potential sites to move Naples Airport to eastern Collier County, but a new airport won’t be complete until about 2040 at a minimum $790 million price tag. 

Environmental Science Associates conducted an exploratory study and met with landowners interested in selling land. ESA whittled that to a list of four sites for a general airport, as Naples Airport is now, or an airport offering commercial flights, ESA’s Southeast Airports Program Manager Doug DiCarlo told the Naples Airport Authority on May 16.  

The sites are: 

  • Site A, east of the county landfill, about 9 miles from the airport. 
  • Site B, the Lipman Farms area off U.S. 41, about 11 miles away. 
  • Site C, Sunripe Land, south of Oil Well Road, about 23 miles away 
  • Site D, Immokalee Regional Airport, about 30 miles away. 

“Forty percent of respondents said relocating the airport would negatively impact their business,” DiCarlo told the NAA, referring to a survey completed by 148 of 503 people who considered the longer drive and whether they’d choose other airports.  

To build a general aviation airport with two runways, 1,800 to 2,000 acres are needed, compared to 2,000 to 2,400 acres for a commercial services airport. A replacement airport would cost $790 million to $1.2 billion, while a commercial services airport is estimated at $1 billion to $1.6 billion. 

The land purchase price ranged from $38 million to $83 million, while environmental mitigation would cost $23 million to $473 million, and construction, $730- to $740 million. However, those are 2024 estimates and are expected to rise because acquisition, and construction isn’t expected to start for eight or 12 years.  

Although ESO selected sites, its contractual duties don’t include recommending whether the airport should relocate or close, provide an alternatives analysis or recommend a site. 

Naples Airport, which began in 1943 as a military airfield, is located on about a square mile of land on the west side of Airport-Pulling Road. It’s self-sustaining, uses no taxpayer money and leases the land from the city of Naples for $1 yearly. The State Legislature created the City of Naples Airport Authority in 1969.  

The airport generates a $781 million annual economic impact, according to the Florida Department of Transportation, and it’s ranked No. 14 on a list of the nation’s busiest private jet airports, dropping from No. 10 in 2020. 

Naples Airport canopyBut residents of nearby North Road, Davis Boulevard and other areas have for years complained about noise and pollution. Since 2000, the NAA has invested at least $10 million in noise-abatement efforts recommended by its Noise Compatibility Committee, including a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. voluntary curfew. Residents still pushed for relocation and Naples City Council last year asked for a study. Meanwhile, an airport tenant started a petition opposing the move. 

The NAA would have to prove to the Federal Aviation Administration which site is best, there’s a need to move and how a new site would affect Immokalee Regional Airport, Marco Island Executive Airport and Southwest Florida International Airport in south Fort Myers. 

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

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