VENICE, Fla. - Millions of dollars worth of improvements at the Venice Municipal Airport are part of several projects happening on the southern end of the island. Changes for the better are also being seen at nearby restaurants, parks and beaches.
If you have not been down to the area in a few years or even months, there are some big changes.
Around $10 million has recently been pumped into the Venice Municipal Airport.
"This is the biggest single project in the airport’s history since the city took over." Airport administrator Chris Rozansky says they are the first to install LED lighting on the runway. They also put in barriers to keep wildlife out. Those are just some of the little things; they also have redone an entire runway. "Which is the community’s noise mitigation runway; it is oriented towards the Gulf of Mexico. The other major components are golf course modifications."
An expanded runway safety zone had parts of the nearby golf course in it. It got $1.5 million for its current makeover.
"They got a runway, and we got a renovation to nine holes on this side." Lake Venice Golf Course general manager Rod Parry says they'll also have a new practice range, greens, and chipping areas. "Anything new is going to be better. Drainage has come a long way, architectural design has changed somewhat."
And those are not the only noticeable differences to the area. Across the street, Sharky's Restaurant on the Pier is currently doubling in size with a multi-million dollar add on. Caspersen beach also has new facilities. Maxine Barritt and the Brohard paw park have become favorites for visitors in recent years.
Parry says the south end of the island has come a long way. "For many years, people didn't know it existed. There were no signs. No real reason to come to this end of the island."
"The city and the private sector are really partnering to make a significant investment in this area. Hopefully it will benefit the residents of this community but also boost tourism and create jobs," says Rozansky. "It's one of kind. There is nothing like this left. This is part of the attraction and allure to Venice we feel has brought so many people here."
Airport officials say the improvements there are having an impact on those other areas. For example, there is now a shuttle there on the weekends which takes those who fly in around town.