AOPA Files FOI Request To Find Out What's Really Happening With
The AOPA has sprung into action to
defend a threatened airport. City officials in Rialto, California,
are looking to close or downsize the Art Scholl Memorial/Rialto
Municipal Airport. They claim the airport is a "money pit," but
AOPA contends they have done little to make the airport viable.
"AOPA will take whatever steps are necessary to keep Rialto
Airport open and viable in its present configuration," said Bill
Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports. "The city has a duty and a
federal obligation to airport users and taxpayers, and we won't
allow Rialto to default on that obligation."
And AOPA is forcing the city's stewardship of the airport into
the sunshine. Dunn showed AOPA's resolve on Thursday afternoon by
serving city officials with a freedom of information request. Under
the California Public Records Act, the city is now required to
reveal exactly what is happening with airport funds and to produce
communications with consultants and developers.
The 453 acres of airport land, some purchased using federal
airport funds, sits right next to the planned extension of the
I-210 freeway. A developer is in exclusive negotiations with the
city and will present a master plan for the airport and surrounding
lands in the spring.
Rialto officials shouldn't be surprised. A consultant's study on
airport redevelopment predicted that "the very influential Aircraft
Owners and Pilots Association is likely to strongly advocate
retaining the airport." AOPA, by the way, contends that study has
AOPA and the FAA contend that the city isn't managing the
airport and its funds properly. The FAA has reported to Congress
that Rialto is "out of compliance" with its federal grants for such
things as non-aviation use of airport property, including drag
racing on the runway and a go-cart track on airport land. There is
an open question about whether all the money generated by the
airport is being returned to the airport, as required by federal
"The airport and surrounding area is perfectly poised to become
a vibrant airport/industrial park, much like Scottsdale Air Park in
Arizona, and become an economic engine for Rialto," said Dunn. "The
city has an opportunity now to create something that will benefit
both pilots and city residents."