The City of Zephyrhills and the Zephyrhills Airport are planning to construct a chain-link security fence that would effectively 'cut off' the access for skydivers to the airport except for gate access.
Skydive City considers this to be intrusive, unnecessary and a severe risk to our business operation.
Skydive City already vets its customers and participants and has voluntarily implemented many security practices and procedures over the years.
There are many ways to ensure security and we are willing to improve what we have without necessarily putting up a barricade.
Grant money from the Florida Department of Transportation has offered some $350,000 to construct the remaining fence required to protect the airport. The idea of security is welcomed by Skydive City and its customers, but the location of the planned fence is simply wrong.
I understand that the City has expressed intentions of putting a chain link fence through Skydive City property and effectively ‘cutting off’ the jumpers except for gate access so the skydivers can come and go to the aircraft and landing area.
Given the volume of jumping is done at Skydive City, I find this to be unacceptable as a means of operation and feel that it will affect my ability to skydive at a location that currently enjoy.
Skydive City has been operating on the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport for some 22 years now and skydiving has been an active part of Zephyrhills for more than 50 years. Skydive City regularly sees thousands of skydivers from more than 50 countries, who travel to Zephyrhills to vacation and skydive, completing some 70,000 jumps each year, filling hotels and restaurants and bringing thousands of spectators and friends to the local economy.
I value the ‘resort’ atmosphere at Skydive City and appreciate the freedoms associated with it.
One solution of many possibilities is, and always has been to fence in the perimeter of the airport, and to include Skydive City ‘inside’ the airport boundary, not ‘outside’. I understand that other airport businesses are fenced inside the perimeter so why not Skydive City?
There is no mandate at either a federal or state level that dictates that a fence must be built, much less a fence that excludes businesses and their customers from the airport. There are many other security options available, none of which appear to have been tried. There is no apparent 'security risk' coming from Skydive City or its customers, tenants and spectators.
We ask that you seriously reconsider the plans for fencing at the airport and the impact it will have on the operations of skydiving in Zephyrhills.
Thanks you for your time.