Golf course cuts ribbon after airport squeeze

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VENICE, Fla. -- After years of planning and months of construction, a nearly eight and half million dollar project to rearrange the set up the Lake Venice Golf Course and at the airport is finally complete. After lots of concern, officials finally cut the ribbon Friday.

Due to airport safety regulations, nine holes had to be rebuilt., but drainage issues slowed progress.

To use a golf term, the Venice Municipal Airport and the neighboring golf course had a tough lie. "The FAA has certain standards for the separation of people and activities at the end of the runway," says airport administrator Chris Rozanski says the problem was that some of the course was in the newer federal safety zones.

"We had to relocate it." The family of the club’s president, Michael Wheeler, helped start it decades ago. "It's been there for 50 years; never had a problem, never had an issue."

It also meant a total reworking of nine holes.

The land is actually leased from the airport. "There were some ideas presented by their engineers, and things like that, from a golf course operation stance that were terrible."

A professional course designer was brought on and a plan was eventually agreed on.

Work started during the slow months…then the rains came. "When a 42-inch pipe pops out of the ground, people go ‘oh my gosh.’"

The issues caused holes to be unplayable and delayed the opening. "We got the contractor back in there. Some of it was on their dime, but we had to contribute some extra funds just to get it done properly."

After all the work, those with the course and the city were celebrating Friday. In total, the changes cost around $1.5 million of the entire $8.5 million airport improvement project.

Venice council member Kit McKeon says the course, which is popular for its walkability and affordability, is better than ever. The new driving range and nine holes, which are used a lot for tournaments, has those who run it happy too. "The cooperation in all aspects and the product that has been produced, I think, is a benefit to the city and benefit for years to come."

A lot of time, money, and effort to make sure the planes and tee shots can take off and land safely. “It's great to see the fruit of many years of effort to make airport safety improvements."

Now a lot of money was spent, but no city tax dollars were used. 90% was paid for by the FAA, 5% from the State Department of Transportation, and 5% from the airport fund they get for things like renting the land and hangars.