Ocean Ridge Airport Seeking Financial Assistance

Dear friends of Ocean Ridge Airport – As you may be aware, the condition of the runway surface at Ocean Ridge Airport has degraded to a condition that threatens the future viability of the airport. In fact, Caltrans, (Division of Aeronautics) the California State governing agency that issues airport operating permits, conducted an inspection of the airport on August 2, 2013 and issued a report that states the runway surface exhibits “severe raveling and loss of asphalt aggregates” that can potentially create Foreign Object Damage to aircraft and propellers.

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The report also states that “the safety implications of the loose aggregate can include reduced contact with the runway during operations, and can also result in damage to tires, windscreens and propellers.” The report requires that improvements be made to the runway surface by September 30, 2014 or “Caltrans may be forced to take permit action.”

Ocean Ridge airport is unique in that it is privately owned, but has been designated as public use by Mr. John Bower, who is not a pilot himself. He recognizes that the airport is a vital link in Gualala’s infrastructure, especially in the event of a disaster such as a major fire or earthquake. To date, Mr. Bower has funded the maintenance of the airport with his own funds, but given the cost to repair the runway, needs financial assistance if the airport is to remain open to the public.

A small group, the Ocean Ridge Airport Association (ORAA), has met with Mr. Bower several times to address these problems and to investigate sustainable solutions for continued airport access. Some of the items include:

• Compilation of names/addresses of interested individuals, currently numbering over 30 people.
• A bank account has been established for ORAA in order to receive monies and distribute those monies for maintenance of the runway.
• That ORAA will only be involved in runway improvements and future maintenance. Mr. Bower will retain full ownership and responsibility for the rest of the property, including airport hangars.
• That the runway would allow turbine powered propeller planes under 4500 pounds gross weight to land at Ocean Ridge Airport until improvements are made.
• Improvement of revenue collections, including:
o Tie down fees have been increased to $7 for single engines and $10 for multi-engines. This brings Ocean Ridge Airport in line with nearby airports.
o To offer monthly and annual tie down packages for pilots.
o To assess a fee for all other users of the airport, such as REACH, CalStar, the South Coast Fire Department, and the Coast Life Support District.
o To relocate the collections box to a more convenient location for pilots, with the money going directly to the maintenance of the runway.
o To install new signage at the airport for information and fees.
• To resolve the runway surface discrepancies noted in the Caltrans report. Bids were obtained from slurry-seal contractors, the lowest bid being $60,000. It has been decided that runway repairs will not happen this year. This will to give us time to come up with a more detailed plan for fundraising and improvements. Our goal is to have the slurry-seal project completed prior to the September 30, 2014 Caltrans deadline The aircraft gross weight limit is being reduced from the current 8,000 lbs. to 4,500 lbs. to mitigate runway damage by heavier aircraft.

As a user of Ocean Ridge Airport, we know that you recognize the importance of keeping the airport open and available to our community. The Bower family is committed to keeping the airport open on a long-term basis if we all can contribute to its maintenance, and will welcome any additional suggestions you may have. In the near future, we are planning to have a website constructed to help disseminate any new developments.

To learn more go to the web site.

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