The New Smyrna Beach City Commission June 8 unanimously accepted a $500,000 state for improvements to the municipal airport.
The grant will used to fund construction of a new administration and maintenance facility at the airport. The new facility will include a 6,000-square-foot building, housing offices, a conference room, break rooms, restrooms and an airfield vehicle storage bay. The new storage space “would allow airport equipment to be stored inside out of the weather when not in use,” as well as provide an inventory room for supplies and tools.
The project also includes the addition of a parking lot and a generator to serve the emergency electricity needs of the building, and the airport’s fuel storage and pumping system. The facility will be located on the northeast perimeter of the airport near the existing air traffic control tower.
The current administration building at 602 Skyline Drive occupies what is known as an “airside” location, which is an ideal spot for loading aircraft prior to take-off and for unloading after landing. NSB officials say the move to a new building will allow the present building to become a revenue generating property for the city.
The airport site was a golf course and grass air strip prior to World War II. During the war, the U.S. Navy took over the site, put in paved runways and used it for advanced naval flight training operations. In 1947, the site was decommissioned by the Navy and became a civilian airport under the direction of the city.
In 2006, the airport was renamed Jack Bolt Field in honor of New Smyrna Beach resident and Naval Aviator Lt. Col. John "Jack" Bolt. He was a decorated combat veteran who flew during World War II and the Korean War. Lt. Col. Bolt’s service is commemorated at the airport with a plaque that details his aerial combat victories. He died in September 2004.
The economic impact the airport has on the community is considerable, bringing an estimated $170 million to the city annually as well as providing more than 1,200 jobs. NSB’s website states airport revenue is generated by “tenants and businesses, related construction activity, spending by visitors and student aviators undergoing flight training, and more.” Epic Flight Academy provides flight training at the airport, including a college degree program in partnership with Daytona State College. Other businesses at the airport include Airgate Aviation, Baker Aviation and American Aero Services, which restores and maintains vintage aircraft.
Florida’s Department of Transportation provides a wide variety of Public Transportation Grants, including Aviation Grants designed to “provide for a safe, cost-effective, and efficient statewide aviation transportation system.” The grants are funded in part by the state’s aviation fuel tax.
The NSB Airport also has benefited from a handful of federal grants in recent years, including a Federal Aviation Administration Grant in 2017 contributing nearly $90,000 to “Wildlife Hazard Assessments” and another in 2016 contributing more than $350,000 to the construction of a taxiway.
In January 2019, the NSB City Commission approved a 20-year Master Plan for airport development that outlines $62 million in improvements that would be funded in large part by federal and state contributions.
Construction on the new building is expected to start in August and to take a year to complete. The city estimates the total construction cost will be $1.35 million.