Broward County votes to save North Perry control tower

Broward County commissioners voted to spend local dollars to run a control tower at the North Perry airport after the facility lost federal funding last month in the nationwide sequester cuts.

The decision Tuesday should cost Broward about $43,000 a month to keep the tower operating nine hours a day, rather than the current 14 hours. The tower was supposed to close as part of a nationwide cutback of air-traffic controllers assigned to the country’s smaller airports. The tower at Opa-locka’s airport was also targeted for closure, but federal aviation regulators backtracked under pressure to keep it open.

Broward commissioners only committed to funding the tower through September. “It’s a temporary solution,” said Greg Meyer, spokesman for the county’s aviation arm. “But for those concerned about safety issues, those fears should be allayed by this.”

North Perry, located in Pembroke Pines, sees about 134,000 take-offs and landings a year and is a popular spot for flight schools and planes that tow banners along the waterfront of Fort Lauderdale. While airports can function without control towers, the planned closure raised concerns about both congestion and safety.

The tower is set to close Saturday night at midnight, and Broward is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to cover any gaps in staffing through April 21 as Broward negotiates a temporary contract with the private firm that runs the tower.

Read more Broward stories from the Miami Herald

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