Ocean Reef Airport Ready for Takeoff
Airport Grand Reopening
By Holly Houser Ocean Reef Press Editorial Assitant
The finishing touches have been made to the Ocean Reef Airport renovations, and ahead of schedule at that! Members gathered Sunday, November 10 on the newly paved and raised tarmac to celebrate the improvements and those who made them possible.
Alex Tonarelli, Ocean Reef Club President, opened the celebration, stating the Airport has come a long way since 1956 as a 2,000-foot grass strip – now approximately a 4,500-foot runway with a 50-foot wide burgee!
“In the time I’ve been here, I’ve seen how important this Airport is and how significantly it contributes to the unique way of life here at Ocean Reef Club,” said Alex. “This summer, I had the opportunity to tour some of the nicest clubs in Florida and came back from that day with one thought – there’s many beautiful clubs, but not one of them has an airport like we have here today.”
Bob Manzo, ORC Chairman of the Board, said “Maintaining the Airport in first-class condition while improving Member experience and safety parameters was paramount for this project.” He detailed the number of important changes, which included repaved, raised and grooved tarmac giving pilots a tremendous improvement in traction, improved drainage system making standing water a thing of the past, new lights installed around the perimeter of the Airport, removing of obstacles close to the runway’s edge, and soon to be completed, the installation of weather equipment to read the weather at Ocean Reef (previously, pilots relied on weather equipment at Miami or Tamiami).
These vital upgrades could not have been possible without the support of a group of Members who donated collectively to pay for 80% of the total project costs. To commemorate their generosity and the reopening of this important Club amenity, Mr. Manzo presented each lead donor with their own plaque and the Club has erected a permanent plaque outside of the Terminal with the opening date and acknowledging the lead donors.
Bill Johnston, member of the Airport Committee and a lead donor, said, “I’m thrilled with how everything turned out. This was a much-needed project about two years in the making. The Airport is such a great amenity and it was important to have the project funded by its heaviest users. I’m happy to be one of those who contributed to the improvements.”
Mr. Manzo and Mr. Tonarelli went on to thank other teams involved in bringing the Airport project to fruition – Chairman of the Airport Committee Rich Beyer and his committee members for the countless number of hours they spent evaluating and identifying the significant improvements, Executive Director of Sports & Recreation Mic O’Keeffe, his Airport team, and Sr. VP Finance/Administration/Projects Vaughn Roberts for making sure the project was done on time and in accordance with criteria and compliance issues, Card Sound Golf Club for agreeing to move back their trees 40’ from the tarmac, NetJets for their economic participation and technical guidance, and General Asphalt owners, Rob Lopez, Sr. and Rob Lopez, Jr. for doing heavy lifting on the construction.
The celebration culminated in true Ocean Reef style – a ribbon cutting done simultaneously with a plane takeoff, signifying the official grand reopening of the Ocean Reef Club Airport.