Talk about Gillespie Field is in the air- KPBS recently published a story about the upcoming expansion of the county-run airport and the Santee City Council discussed the "Santee Aerotropolis" at the last meeting, a plan for Santee businesses to better cash in on the nearby airport.
Redevelopment plans for the 70-acre expansion into the site of the old El Cajon Speedway include construction of a new taxiway and businesses related to the aeronautics industry.
The KPBS article quotes a group of East County residents that don't want to see more flight training at the airport because of the noise the low-flying and often circling aircraft make. Director of airports for San Diego County, Peter Drinkwater, told KPBS the county can't deny new flight schools access to the expanded airport.
Santee's airport neighbor saw 184,500 flights last year, about 35,000 fewer than the 40 year average, according to Drinkwater.
The expansion is scheduled to break ground in 2014.
The Santee City Council discussed the concept of the "Santee Aerotropolis" at the January 9 meeting. The idea is to utilize the economic engine of the airport and help surrounding businesses take advantage of a major economic center of East County.
City staff said they are studying transportation linkage- the best strategy to link the airport with businesses around it, specifically those on the Santee side of the fence. This would include creating an entrance to the airport from the Santee side. They are in talks with county to create a safe corridor so planes can taxi in and out of first row of buildings.
According to city staff, there are about 150 acres in Santee, between Magnolia Avenue, Cuyamaca Street and SR-52, that could benefit from this project. They want to set the city up in advance to take advantage of airport and promote the key 150 acres.
City staff said that the East County Economic Development Council is working diligently to obtain grant money for this project.