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Zephyrhills picks new airport consultant

ZEPHYRHILLS — The City Council on Monday selected a consultant it hopes will lead the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport into the future by helping the city with much-needed renovations, creating a new airport master plan and boosting economic growth in and around the the facility.

AVCON Inc., an Orlando-based company of 50 employees, came out on top after a long ranking process by a committee of city staff that culminated Monday night after a combined special meeting of the City Council and Airport Municipal Authority board.

During the 2 ½-hour special meeting, representatives from five aviation consultant firms, including the city's current one, The LPA Group Inc., made presentations as to why they were right for the job. The LPA Group's five-year contract expires in August.

Airport authority members ranked the applicants Monday evening, and this time several firms outranked LPA.

During the regular council meeting, the majority of City Council members chose AVCON, which at one time was the city's airport consultant.

If hired, the firm also will administer the city's FAA grant funding for the master plan project. In addition to writing a new master plan, the firm is expected to assist the city in rehabilitating the airfield's runways, building a new terminal and replacing airport lighting.

The council also took interim airport manager Nathan Coleman's recommendation of a shorter contract term to ensure a good fit, making it three years with a two-year renewal option at the original rates.

The city will soon begin negotiating a contract with AVCON, but if it's not accepted the city will move to its second choice of American Infrastructure Development Inc. of Tampa.

In other news:

As expected, council member Tim Urban officially resigned his seat, effective Friday. Urban, who took a job earlier this year with the Hernando County School District, is moving back to his hometown of Brooksville.

Urban individually thanked council and staff members, and the community for the opportunity to serve.

Monday night, former council member Manny Funes said he was going to run for the seat but on Tuesday, after he picked up filing papers, changed his mind when he found out a friend, Ken Burgess, was running.

"I think Ken will do a good job and I wish him well," Funes said.

Burgess, a teacher at Zephyrhills High School and the girls' golf team coach, said he has considered running for several years but the timing didn't seem right until now. He never wanted to run against Funes and was surprised he considered running this time.

"To be honest, it's kind of a load off of me. I've known Manny for a long time," he said.

Burgess picked up his filing papers at City Hall early Tuesday morning.

If any challengers come forward by the July 19 deadline at noon, there will be a special election in the fall. Otherwise, Burgess will be sworn in after the qualifying deadline.

Zephyrhills picks new airport consultant 06/28/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 8:15pm]
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