Connect with us


City approves backing marina, airport projects

Veronica Brezina



Albert Whitted Airport. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

As the fate of the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina and Albert Whitted Airport is to be determined, the city is obligated to keep its assets afloat. 

During the April 20 St. Petersburg Committee of the Whole meeting, the members reviewed the $163.125 million budget for the fiscal year 2024 capital improvement projects as part of its larger five-year, $961.278 million budget. 

Projects in the works for Albert Whitted Airport in 2024 include: 

• An airport fuel farm replacement: $1.1 million project cost 
• Rehabilitation of the airfield vault, which includes an emergency generator: $1.1 million project cost
• An upgrade to the access control security system: $132,000 project cost 

The airport can tap into $990,000 from Federal Aviation Administration grants, $1.1 million from Florida Department of Transportation grants and $113,000 via the airport operating fund. 

“I’m glad we are going to use a resource for capital funding for the airport in FY 2024. I would like us to go back and try to get funding from FAA for expenses we incurred last year for capital projects,” voiced committee member Ed Montanari. 

Managing Director of Development Chris Ballestra said those conversations are in progress, and the city expects to receive a response from the FAA in the next few months. 

“The resolution to accept grants, as the city council unanimously approved and recommended last year, is a savvy method for caring for this important downtown waterfront asset. We are pleased it is incorporated in the 2024 budget,” Albert Whitted Airport Advisory Committee member Walt Driggers said in a prepared statement. 

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch previously instructed the city to reject additional FAA dollars, and said that emerging safety items could be addressed with non-federal resources; however, the city council ultimately opposed the mayor’s recommendation. 

Montanari remarked that while there’s a 2024 budget for the airport projects, he did not see a budget for the future years. 

Two months ago, an evaluation committee selected New York-based HR&A Advisors to study the non-aviation uses at the 100-acre airfield site. 

A committee member said the budget for future airport projects may be determined on a year-by-year basis following the completion of HR&A’s study. 

The consultant selection will go before the city council, and once the city approves and inks a contract with HR&A, Ballestra said the hope is “to move quickly” on the study, which will dictate how the city moves forward. 

The Municipal Marina will be receiving $400,000 to go towards marina and facility improvements, including the replacement of pilings. 

The St. Petersburg Municipal Marina. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

“We have seen many photos of the marina in its current state; we all have an idea of what’s needed. It’s encouraging we have [issued] an RFP to potentially identify a partner for marina renovations,” committee member Gina Driscoll commented. 

Earlier this month, city officials issued a new 17-page request for proposals (RFP) for a private company to redevelop and manage the marina.

The bids for the marina management and redevelopment are due July 14. 

Assuming the city will move forward on selecting a private company to steer the marina’s future, Ballestra said there would be a substantial amount of time for the design and permitting process before the redevelopment can occur. 

“No different than the airport, we focus on public safety issues first,” Ballestra said regarding the designated funding. “I anticipate that you will continue to see requests for funding, albeit some of it may be ‘band aids’ [to the bigger issue], yet it is necessary.” 

Continue Reading


  1. Avatar

    Donna Kostreva

    April 25, 2023at6:25 pm

    “Ballestra said the hope is “to move quickly” on the study, which will dictate how the city moves forward. “

    Why are the citizens not dictating how the City moves forward? We have been fighting to preserve Albert Whitted for over four decades I have lived here. I remember the vote by citizens to preserve
    Albert Whitted. The citizens have already spoken. I hope their voices count!

  2. Avatar


    April 25, 2023at7:37 pm

    Seriously!? And, WHEN was this “vote” where “the citizens” spoke – Sorry, but I can’t believe that “voters” (NOW vs 20-40 YEARS AGO) would EVER vote on keeping a desolate airport that is only used seriously, by ‘TWO-people’ (< 99% of the city and county) over something new and ‘magnificent’ that can actually, be enjoyed and used by EVERYONE, and benefitting the entire community/county/region.

  3. Avatar


    April 26, 2023at12:01 pm

    Something new and magnificent like a new high-rise keep the politicians hands off the airport

  4. Avatar

    Donna Kostreva

    April 26, 2023at4:20 pm

    Melmcclell- Flash back to 2003. Perhaps you were not here then to recall hearing the hundreds of volunteers cheering in celebration the results of the citywide referendum showing over 70% support for preserving Albert Whitted Airport. It has been under attack since 1935 by the uninformed, the money hungry, and developers.
    Briefly, AW is the very birthplace of scheduled commercial flight, home of the threatened species burrowing owl, is critical to refueling and maintenance of the lifesaving Bayflight helicopters, employs hundreds of people, teaches people how to fly, is a designated FAA critical reliever airport, imperative for Homeland Security, and is a wonder recreational asset and creates revenue for our city. Let me know if you need more information. I have

  5. Avatar


    April 27, 2023at7:49 pm

    That vote lasted 20 yrs, not forever. It’s junk now, we don’t want it and don’t want to keep funding it.The few that do should put up a donation box. With the Dali next door I’m sure they could figure out a better use for that land. I don’t care if it’s a high-rise or whatever, better than an airport that you can’t even get a flight from. Shoot, build a zoo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment, I have read, understand and agree to the Posting Guidelines.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

Email us:

Subscribe for Free

Share with friend

Enter the details of the person you want to share this article with.