Tue, May 18, 2010
FAA Says City Has Two Outstanding Issues From A 2008 Grant
Winter Haven Airport (KGIF) is conducting a search for a new
director following the resignation last month of Cheryl Connor.
At the time, Connor said Airport Commissioner Jamie Beckett was
interfering with her to the degree that she was unable to do her
job, and making it very difficult to comply with grant assurance
requirements from the FAA and Florida DOT.
The dispute stemmed from two items which remain from a 2008
audit that the FAA says need correction: lease issues and the
non-aeronautical use of aeronautical areas. The Lakeland Ledger
reports that Beckett said he has not seen the grant assurance
documents, and had not tried to interfere with Connor's compliance
with the requirements of the grants. Beckett said his problem was
with the way the city managed the airport, specifically in how they
dealt with FBO operator Richard Parish. Beckett said the only
service Parish provides is fuel, and the price is too high. "We're
charging Ritz Carlton prices for Motel 6 services," he said.
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said if the grant audit issues
are not dealt with, it could jeopardize future grants.
The 2008 audit found some safety issues like vehicular traffic
crossing airport property in a grassy area between a seaplane base
and the airport's east side. It also found that personal vehicles
were being operated on airport property without radios for
monitoring airport frequencies. While those issues have been
corrected, there is still a problem with some lease agreements.
Some airport lease-holders have been storing non-aviation related
equipment in aeronautical areas, and some adjacent property owners
using airport property to access their private, non-aeronautical
property, Bergen said.
City manager Dale Smith said those issues will be corrected even
in the absence of an airport manager.
Connor said one of the reasons she left the job was because she
felt like Beckett was micro-managing her position in violation of
the city charter, though neither Smith nor a South Florida lawyer
who reviewed Connor's evidence said they believed a violation had
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