The future takeoff of a regional airport in Clay County remains up in the air as informal discussions continue among county officials.
So how close is the airport to becoming a reality? It depends on who you ask.
"It would add a new dimension to Clay County,” says Clay County commissioner Gayward Hendry. He is proposing a regional airport on a site at Reynolds Airpark in Green Cove Springs off Florida Highway 16. That site was a navy base during World War II and has a 5,000-foot by 240-foot runway that would need some upgrades.
According to AirNav.com, the asphalt runway is in poor condition.
Multiple attempts to reach Clay County Port Incorporated, the owners of Reynolds Airpark, were unsuccessful.
Hendry says the idea of adding an airport is still in the earliest stages and hasn’t even been formally proposed. Hendry says the County will need to wait and see what happens with the First Coast Expressway which will run directly south of the airstrip.
Green Cove Springs is expected to see a transportation and economic boom after the First Coast Expressway opens.
But not everyone is on board with the proposed airport.
"Depending on what that airport looks like, it could or could not be beneficial,” says City of Green Cove Springs Mayor Mitch Timberlake. "If it is something that has a small number of flights then it would have one set of implications. If it is something we're operating at 500 to 1000 flights a month that's an entirely different set of implications."
The airstrip lies inside the Green Cove Springs City limits.
Other Clay County commissioners echoed the wait-and-see approach.
"We have worked hard in Clay to bring in companies that provide high-quality jobs, this is one of many ideas being explored in that effort. if it makes sense to move forward it would be a collaborative effort with the City of Green Cove Springs," Clay County Commissioner Gavin Rollins said in statement to First Coast News.
"I think they really shouldn't be wasting the possibility of Reynolds Park slipping from their grasp as far as turning it into a positive for the community,” says Hendry.
And whether or not any planes ever take off from this particular airfield, Hendry says the county needs growth.
"If you have to go to work why drive to St Johns or Jacksonville? Why not just drive down the street. We are hoping to put Clay County in a position where they can earn a decent wage."