Cornfest in Question?

Apparently there is some unfinished business between DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport and Corn Fest. I received a copy of the following email from a party involved in the current airport litigation.

Again I call for the Mayor and City Council to conduct an independent investigation into this matter and DTMA operations in general. This is not the expected or desired result of public-private partnership.

From: <Richard.Pur@faa.gov>
Date: May 18, 2011 3:22 PM
Subject: Corn Fest 2011
To: “Cleveland, Tom” <TCleveland@cityofdekalb.com>
Cc: “michael.p.irwin@illinois.gov” <michael.p.irwin@illinois.gov>, <Richard.Pur@faa.gov>

Tom,

FAA and IDA have been notified of an event (Corn Fest) which is planned to be held at DKB this summer.  An airport user has contacted both IDA and myself with certain concerns, one of which is access to his hangar and the usable airport during the event.

But before we even get to that issue, we must address the airport’s responsibility as per its grant assurances.  The City of DeKalb is obligated to operate the airport for aeronautical purposes only, unless approved by the FAA.  Closures of an entire airport is not endorsed by FAA.

Partial closures, which I hear Corn Fest is, still requires approval by FAA.  And if Corn Fest has previously been held at DKB and closed part of the airport for a weekend, I would say that it should have been coordinated.

Since DKB is a State Block Grant airport, I have asked Mike Irwin to preliminarily coordinate with you for any proposal to temporarily close part of DKB for such an event.

I/we formally do not know of the particulars on the proposed event.  But judging from the website, it’s a go for the event.

Items that you need to provide and coordinate with Mike Irwin include, but are not limited to:

–  An agreement between the airport and/or the City of DeKalb, as Airport Sponsor and the event proponent.  Of particular importance is the amount of money received by the airport from the event.  This MUST be some form of Fair Market Value revenue received from the event and put into the airport operations fund.  Failure to do so could put the airport in noncompliance with its Grant Assurances. IDA/FAA may request proof of payment to ensure compliance.  I would also add that a token sum of something like $500/day or $1,000/day for what appears to be a pretty big event is not considered Fair Market Value.  The agreement should also cover repairs to damaged facilities to the airport as a result of the event.  That could cover, pavement, hangars, NAVAID’s, and even grass.  Some agreements can even cover lost revenue to any businesses (FBO’s) on the airport.

–  A proposed plan showing the portion of the airport to be temporarily is needed.   A drawing depicting setback distances to the open (during the event) airport operational areas, including plans for access by the aeronautical users (i.e. hangar areas).  Various use areas (i.e. concert stage, ferris wheel, etc.) should be depicted.  The airport needs to coordinate this event with the airport’s users to ensure they know the boundaries of the event and what impacts there will be.  While there may be cases where a user is agreeable to not use the airport during that timeframe, access to the users that indicate their desired use of the airport during the event needs to be addressed.

–  I googled the event and there appears to be rides (usually associated with Fairs, etc.).  Any temporary structures must be coordinated as per FAR Part 77 and studied by FAA for potential impacts to air navigation for the remaining open airport facilities.

Feel free to contact Mike and/or myself with any questions, but coordination of such an event is required.

Also, please feel free to share this email with any interested or affected parties such as the promoter, the City of DeKalb, Airport Advisory Board, etc.

Thanks,

Rich Pur
Chicago Airports District Office
(847) 294-7527

6 thoughts on “Cornfest in Question?

  1. So, DKTM/City of DeKalb now has a federal agency (FAA) asking questions and making suggestions. I would say the tone of this letter is quite diplomatic, even friendly, considering rules/policies/law has apparently already been broken regarding grant status at least. Then there are operational requirements and regulations. It would appear the city does not have sufficient expertise to own/operate a federally subsidized airport. Or is the newly hired public works director (who formerly managed an airport to our north) sufficient but not up to speed? I don’t know. But clearly there is much explaining and conformance to be done.

    I suggest mayor and council direct the city manager to contact the interim city attorney and obtain a solid ruling on the extent of liability the city and its citizens are legally bound to. If it is as broad and far-reaching as I suspect, those in charge should cancel any air shows/contests or other out of the ordinary operations at the airport at least until they have transferred that liability exposure to a private firm.

    Finally, how long will this administration continue to accept poor decisions by staff? In some cases, intent, direction, and expenditures are arguable. But it is never acceptable to make poor legal decisions which could put the citizenry at large in harm’s way. As I have said before, buy that insurance! Then we can argue about what projects to do or not.

  2. You know Mac, good point with the Monster truck fiasco which involved the NAPA promotion and DeKalb City Manager Mark Biernacki not investigating the event and questioning possible safety concerns and restrictions that should have been imposed or at least discussed.

    People need to understand that the City of DeKalb is self insured and basically the city is broke. This in turn means that anytime a major lawsuit with regards to a liability is brought against the City of DeKalb, that in essence translates to the citizens of DeKalb. The Monster Truck is far from being over and the city in the end will end up paying a pretty hefty award to those hurt during the City of DeKalb authorized Monster Truck demonstration that went wrong.

    With that said, the City of DeKalb (again translates to DeKalb taxpayers) will be responsible for any fines handed out by the FAA or awards given to the last Fixed Base Operator (FBO) that is currently has a suit against the City of DeKalb for various alleged wrong doings that has forced that FBO to lose monies and their business. City Manager Mark Biernacki, Tom Cleveland, and former city attorney Norma Guess (now deceased) are all named in this lawsuit personally along with the City of DeKalb (taxpayers again). This charge by the FAA along with the fact that the FBO has questioned the City of DeKalb for using the airport for the Corn Fest and closing down parts of the airport for the Corn Fest. Since the City of DeKalb is self insured and basically broke, any fines and monies awarded in a lawsuit will have to be paid with taxpayer dollars. I also imagine that a law firm has been hired to represent the City of DeKalb on this lawsuit since our lead city attorney (now deceased) was also named in the suit. This would be taxpayer dollars paying for this defense which if the representatives for the City of DeKalb are found liable due to their actions, I would strongly urge the city council to fire all involved immediately.

    Mayor Povlsen has given to much free reign to the office of the city manager these past few years. Unfortunately, the city manager and his office have been questioned way too often concerning actions that city manager Biernacki has taken and approved. Hirings during a hiring freeze, hirings not approved by council or budget, Wogengate, NAPA Monster Truck fiasco, various airport matters, and letting go of employees and not realizing the city’s obligations to pay them for the remaining part of the year. When is Mayor Povlsen and the city council going to make City Manager Biernacki accountable for his mistakes?

  3. Of particular importance is the amount of money received by the airport from the event. This MUST be some form of Fair Market Value revenue received from the event and put into the airport operations fund. Failure to do so could put the airport in noncompliance with its Grant Assurances. IDA/FAA may request proof of payment to ensure compliance. I would also add that a token sum of something like $500/day or $1,000/day for what appears to be a pretty big event is not considered Fair Market Value.

    Perhaps sponsors are needed to raise what is considered Fair Market Value.

    Most concerning to me is that a major event was sited and hosted at a municipal airport without required approvals. That lesson of getting proper approvals and permits should have been learned from the Monster Truck fiasco.

    And that makes me wonder if all necessary approvals and permits have been acquired for the June events at the airport. Note the red letters on this website and then consider the City of DeKalb’s self insured status.

    • IIRC the other downtown parking lots including the one where the carnival used to be held are being torn up this year. So I’m afraid it wouldn’t be as simple as moving it back.

Leave a Reply