Dallas Executive Airport's Neighbors Are Being Heard, But Being Listened to Is Something Else

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Eric Salard
The city-owned Dallas Executive Airport has a new website. It's slick, a vast leap forward from the static, text-heavy site that seemed a relic from the dial-up era. Just in time, too, since the airport is on the cusp of a major expansion. There, amidst bold-faced promises of Dallas' "world-class shopping" and "five-star entertainment," in apparent response to pretty well substantiated concerns that neighbors were shut out of the planning process, is a tab headlined "Being a Good Neighbor." It is topped, somewhat puzzlingly, with a photo of Klyde Warren Park but goes on to tout the public outreach that's being done in the area that actually surrounds the airport, some 10 miles to the southwest.

Head over to the DEAneighbors.com, local gadfly Raymond Crawford's agitprop watchdog website, and you'll find documents (e.g. sign-in sheets from key Planning Advisory Committee meetings composed entirely of city staffers and people who do business at DEA) and jeremiads detailing how the public was left out despite the promises and Federal Aviation Administration rules to the contrary.

Two months ago, the city sheepishly apologized and, according to the documents posted by Crawford, then-interim Assistant City Manager Theresa O'Donnell and aviation director Mark Duebner promised to reboot the public-input process so neighbors could have a meaningful say.

That's how the neighbors understood it anyway, because that's what city officials told them. Here's an excerpt from a June 23 Dallas Morning News article on the subject:

A committee, including airport-area residents, will be created to draft a master plan for the airport in the Red Bird area. Consultants prepared such a plan two years ago after meetings with airport tenants and government representatives.

"We're going to go back through the same process we did before," Mark Duebner, the city's aviation director, said Monday. "We're just going to expand the public advisory community."

That process began with an initial meeting at the airport last Thursday with DEA Manager Darrell Philips and a second meeting last night led by Mike Dmyterko, a principal with Kansas City-based Coffman Associates, the airport consulting firm handling the master plan.

On the plus side, residents say, the meeting provided an opportunity to ask questions and get straight answers about the project. The bad news was, it quickly became clear that they weren't going to change much or anything that was already in the master plan.

"Our expectations going in last week was that it was basically going to be a redo of the master-plan process," says Sean Mahoney, one of the eight or so community members who attended this week's meeting. "And then when we went into the orientation last week, it sounded more like they only want us to review the document."

The issue that most concerned the neighbors, the extension and reconstruction of the runways, which would allow them to accommodate heavier -- and, they fear, noisier -- aircraft, was clearly off the table.

Dmyterko says this afternoon that Mahoney's takeaway is largely correct. The master plan has been written for two years. Redoing the entire process would be prohibitively expensive and rely on uncertain FAA and Texas Department of Transportation funding. The pavement on the runways is "truly falling apart." Just to accommodate the current fleet, the pavement needs to have its strength increased to bear 75,000 pounds, up from 60,000. The city wanted to push it up to 90,000, he says, which is what's in the draft master plan, but 15,000 pounds won't make much of a difference to neighbors.

"A lot of people have some fear that -- it's almost conspiratorial -- if we let them put more pavement in, they're gonna bring in 747s and [they're going to] hear them all night long. I'm not saying they're crazy or anything. I understand their concerns." But any heavier planes at Dallas Executive Airport, Dmyterko says, will likely be modern business jets, which are relatively quiet.

The basic truth, though, is that neither the city of Dallas nor Coffman has to listen to the community during the development of an airport master plan, Dmyterko says. There's an FAA advisory strongly recommending it (a point DEA-area residents have highlighted), and it's certainly a best practice, but "the reality is a master plan has no absolute requirement for any public participation."

Crawford and his allies maintain otherwise. In a complaint submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General, embedded below, he asks for an investigation of the lack of public participation in the master-plan process.

Coffman typically strives to include the public. The Planning Advisory Committee for Arlington's airport, for instance, includes representatives from four homeowners associations. The reason neighbors weren't invited Dallas Executive's master plan was being drafted in 2011 was that "we generally allow the sponsor (i.e. the city of Dallas) to give us recommendations for who's going to sit on a ...Planning Advisory Committee."

Darrell Phillips, Dallas Executive's airport manager, puts the onus on the neighbors: "They didn't attend."

The airport, though, has learned the error of its ways. Some version of the group that met with Dmyterko will be established as a permanent "airport advisory committee." The plan is for them to meet quarterly to make recommendations or air concerns about "anything going on at the airport."

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

Raymond Crawford Inspector General Complaint


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47 comments
noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

Let's review some basic facts on both sides:

1.  The neighbors don't have control of the airport, and virtually all of them moved in knowing there was an airport there.  The airport is owned by ALL of the citizens of Dallas, and its efficient operation and financial health as a potential "enterprise fund" are in the interest of all citizens. 

2.  Redbird Airport was located on that site during WWII, having been purchased for that purpose in 1944.  It took shape as an airport in 1946, and was opened for business in 1947.  So, anyone who moved into the area after 1944 knew there would be an airport there. 

3.  Redbird Airport has a remarkable safety record, with one occurrence associated with the airport. You can't get much safer in almost 70 years of operation.

4.  Love Field went through much of this same kind of sudden citizen interest in 1980.  Even though most of those people moved in well after Love was host to large jet operations, they still decided to complain after their moving there.  Ultimately, the Airport won, and had somewhat of  compromise with the residents.  It is, today, one of the most successful airports in the nation, has an excellent safety record, and is HOME TO THE MOST SUCCESSFUL AIRLINE IN AMERICA - SOUTHWEST AIRLINES. 

Anyone foolish enough to move in close to an airport, and then complain along the NIMBY strategy, (Not In My Backyard), is in serious need of professional counseling. 

The airport was there first, and its success will raise - not lower - most property values in the area. If you don't believe it, have a look at the McKinney airport.  

 

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

Mark Duebner still has a job because???? Oh yeah. Covering for Fat Elvis (Mary Suhm) on the secret gas drilling agreement.

MattDallas
MattDallas

My suggestion? Move. Stop wasting the City's time with frivolousness.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Raymond wouldn't survive in Oaklawn or Uptown.

lolotehe
lolotehe

"They didn't attend."

Maybe they have jobs and couldn't take time off or leave early to go to the meeting. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

The attitude of City Staff certainly seems to be, if we could only get rid of the residents, we could and would have a world class city.

raymondmcrawford
raymondmcrawford

I'll be glad to debate this issue with Darrell Phillips in public. Since he wasn't here to know the facts, the public was never invited and we have the sign in sheets showing who did attend. Those attendees were City Hall and Airport insiders. Now that the Feds in Washington, DC have my packet of documents and official complaint about this malfeasance, we'll see how it goes from here.

seanmahoney
seanmahoney

As was pointed out to us at Tuesday's meeting, it is not illegal for them to upgrade the airport without community input. True or not, you have to wonder about the implications of falsifying that you did to the FAA and TXDOT?

WylieH
WylieH

[The reason neighbors weren't invited Dallas Executive's master plan was being drafted in 2011 was that "we generally allow the sponsor (i.e. the city of Dallas) to give us recommendations for who's going to sit on a ...Planning Advisory Committee."]

There is no provision under Federal law that allows for sponsor agencies (i.e. the City of Dallas) to manipulate the public input process by excluding all representatives of the surrounding community.

WylieH
WylieH

[Darrell Phillips, Dallas Executive's airport manager, puts the onus on the neighbors: "They didn't attend."]

Maybe because the meetings were never noticed to the public.

WylieH
WylieH

[The basic truth, though, is that neither the city of Dallas nor Coffman has to listen to the community during the development of an airport master plan. There's an FAA advisory strongly recommending it (a point DEA-area residents have highlighted), and it's certainly a best practice, but "the reality is a master plan has no absolute requirement for any public participation."]

That is a patently false statement.  Please review Presidential Executive Order 12898.

http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/acr/com_civ_support/envir_justice/

raymondmcrawford
raymondmcrawford

Your noble furr of facts is an overgrown bush of skewed information that is not relevant to the core of this story. To compare the McKinney angle to the Oak Cliff angle is another skewed view of the situation.

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

@RangersFan Public affairs consultants are so easy to spot on this blog. They usually use a handle that is affiliated with a neighborhood or something really populist like RangersFan. Our city's P.A. consultants are not the most socially sophisticated people.


So which one are you? The former reporter who brags about her zoning clientele? The agency president who is always getting nicked by JimS? 

seanmahoney
seanmahoney

@RangersFan The only person that said anything about 747s was Mr. Dmyterko in the article above. I don't think I've heard a single resident say anything about 747s at DEA.



ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@RangersFan Do you have an uniformed opinion about the Rangers you'd like to give us?  Or are you informed bc you work for the airport or one of the companies that is going to make money from the expansion?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

fashionfest.net uses ivory, lowland gorilla fur and minced kitten in many of its counterfeit products, which have been proven to cause cancer.

fashionfest.net also cheats on its taxes and supports the North Korean dictatorship.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

The meetings never happened. Darrell Phillips is desperate to keep this new job so he's lying as per directed by Duebner and Atkins.

WylieH
WylieH

@lolotehe The meetings were never publicly advertised, so it was impossible for the general public to know they took place.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@seanmahoney upgrade and expand or two mutually exclusive terms in this case.  They cannot throw an expansion under the term upgrade to avoid public input from the neighbors

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@WylieH As I understand it, if they weren't "public hearings", they didn't need to.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@raymondmcrawford Thank you for that kind observation, especially since you missed the point.  It's probably my error in not making the parallels clearer.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@RobertStinson so I get accused of misinterpretation and now the original comment is deleted so that I can't go back and read to see what I may have misinterpreted.  Well done Robert!

WylieH
WylieH

I haven't either. Their concern revolves around the secret plans to accommodate large narrow-body aircraft, such as 737's, etc.

RangersFan
RangersFan

@ScottsMerkin @RangersFan  Neither, actually.  I'm just an innocent civilian who has been following this story and am truly baffled by all of this. 


So before you want to question the integrity of my inquiry, don't answer my question with a question and please provide some insightful and positive knowledge on the subject.  Or is everything an argument to you, for the sake of arguing?

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@WylieH @lolotehe As near as I could tell, theses weren't public hearings.  They were planning meetings consisting of stakeholders (including city staff, aviation department staff,  and some area representatives. )


I'm still curious why those who wanted to object after the fact didn't go to P&Z instead of trying to embarrass Dallas with the FAA. 


But, the Presidential Order was not intended to convey a non-existing "right" to those with no direct association with the master plan. 



I think Redbird's operators were surprised that there were objections to the success of the airport, and therefore greater income to the city and lower taxes.


Since many of the houses in that area were built in the mid-50s or so, and the builders, and city zoning knew there was an airport not too far away, I can't see why 50 or 60 years later they discover an airport in that area of Dallas.

seanmahoney
seanmahoney

@ScottsMerkin Maybe they consider what is happening now to be public input? I would prefer to be working on solving some of our concerns, rather than be sidelined and have my ideas be ignored. If they hadn't tried to bypass us in the beginning of this process, maybe we could have helped improve the plan for the benefit of us all.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@WylieH Don't forget that 737s need longer airways to operate.  And, depending on the weight of the cargo, fuel, outside temperature, and wind direction, even longer runways could be required.


It is also a fact that larger aircraft, like 737s, need much thicker runways than smaller and lighter aircraft, and also need to be wider. 


The newer 737s have much quieter engines, but can also climb faster, bank left or right sooner, and equipped to better observe noise ordinances and other FAA requirements.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Mervis

No, conservatives, especially hunters, perform a huge chunk of animal and habitat protection, so they have more animals to eat. Conservatives don't support communist dictatorships unless it benefits the country, and it's a proved scientific fact that 98% of a Russian scammers and spammers vote Democrat.

Does that answer your question?

raymondmcrawford
raymondmcrawford

Are residents were supposed to be a part if the Planning Advisory Committee.

P&Z never was part of the equation.

Dallas embarrasses itself without help. Do you even live here?

Yes, they were surprised,especially the city council person who considers himself "already rich" and has questionable work history and considers the airport "his house" when he doesn't even represent that district at present.

The neighbors that have lived there around the airport such as my family since 1956 have co existed with the airport in harmony. In its present form, it's fine. What is being done here is bigger than most people realize and without public participation.

If you had the facts, you would understand. You don't.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Montemalone @AeroRazavi @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul I dont think that works, then you lose about 75% of the qualified candidates for city jobs, like firefighters and cops.  As someone said at Dmag, I think if you make decisions that affect how or where money is or isnt spent in the city then, sure, you should have a personally vested interest in it. 

RangersFan
RangersFan

@ScottsMerkin @RangersFan So close? I only mentioned 747s because it has been brought up in previous articles and in the community meetings.  


Their only fear is larger and louder aircraft.  I'm just hoping the community sees that silver lining.  There has to be good in this plan.  The COD has been trying to revive that district for ages, but it seems they don't want change.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@raymondmcrawford "If you had the facts, you would understand. You don't.". 


Please don't be so sure of that.  Zoning has often been a part of selecting a site for developments and building homes.  And, depending on the city, zoning also gets involved in everything from environmental matters to variations in uses. 


As I recall, Councilman Lipscomb used to store campaign signs and other campaign supplies in one of the buildings at Redbird -- for free.  But, then he was not alone. 


Airport expansion is generally a sign of success, and that mean taxpayers getting a better return for their money, and lower taxes.  Love Field is an enterprise fund, and has been for years.  I don't have the numbers, but I suspect DEA could do the same thing, only on a smaller scale.


I don't have a dog in this hunt except for keeping my taxes low, raising the income for the City of Dallas, and further developing the Southern sector of our city and creating good jobs in the area in the process.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@RangersFan @ScottsMerkin A few factoid of interest: 


1.  No 747 could routinely land at Redbird without much longer runways except in an emergency.  Then, it could land safely, but would need a brake job to fly again. 


2.  Aircraft engines are getting quieter; not noisier.  The next stage of engines will be quieter and more fuel efficient.  (Is is also a fact that louder aircraft are an indicator of less fuel efficiency in times where fuel costs a fortune!)

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@RangersFan @ScottsMerkin pretty sure the discussion was around 737's.  Then again, if they had been including the residents in the meetings from day one, there wouldnt be any speculations by neighbors or "rabble rousers" now would there

RangersFan
RangersFan

@ScottsMerkin @RangersFan Well, you misinterpreted post. My topic was focused towards the positive economic impact that could help that area., The specs on the aircraft was a side-bar thought simply addressing how that idea or fear that the community has towards the plan is, like you said, not an option.


And I absolutely agree that the neighbors should have been included. But now that they are, they don't seem to be willing to listen.  And nothing is to be heard of what they want the plan to be.

WylieH
WylieH

They AREN'T being consulted in any sort of meaningful way. The City of Dallas prepared the master plan in secret, in apparent violation of Presidential Executive Order 12898 and several other federal laws & regulations. Now, after all the important decisions have been made, the residents are being asked to come in and rubber stamp it. This is exactly the type of behavior the Feds say is prohibited.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@RangersFan so why did you delete the comment that i supposedly misinterpreted?  I cant refute that now

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@WylieH You are aware, are you not, that this E.O. was signed by Clinton to get black votes.  Under the absurd heading of "environmental justice" for minority and low-income people (but not for anyone else) there were additional burdens placed on airports, their owners, and aviation in general to make sure they are politically correct, and to hand the illusion of some kind of political authority to people who wouldn't know an airport apron from a lab coat. 


The priorities of airports and their operators are:  1)  Safety of operations (including employees and contractors), 2) Accommodations of relevant aircraft and their missions, 3)  cost of operations and making a profit, 4)  accommodations of passengers and/or shippers, and 5) coordination with FBOs for each of the above as well as arrangements for rentals and/or leases. 

Nobody wants to poke sticks at the FAA, but since Clinton was elected, there has been an attempt to turn it into a much more political tool than it ever was for Reagan or Bush. 



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