DALLAS — A master plan to redevelop Dallas Executive Airport in Southwest Dallas may be hitting some turbulence.
A group of upset residents claims the city has violated state and federal laws by failing to properly notify them of a plan to increase air traffic at the old Redbird Airport.
Darrell Baker, Mel Blazer and Raymond Crawford all live within a few blocks of Executive Airport. All three feel the City of Dallas has pulled a fast one on them.
For the past three years, they say the city has been quietly planning a major airport runway reconstruction and extension without giving their neighborhood proper notice.
Airport Master Plan Advisory Committee meetings have been held and plans have been discussed. But according to the sign-in sheets, few &mash; if any — affected residents were a party to the conversation.
"It's all City Hall insiders,” Crawford said. "There are zero residents listed on these sign-in sheets."
All three airport neighbors say proper notification of any runway renovations or extensions is required by law, and neighborhood inclusion is just proper protocol.
Mark Duebner is the city's director of aviation. "I think 'expansion' is the wrong word," said Mark Duebner, the city's director of aviation. He said he was surprised when — just a few weeks ago, after three years of planning — opposition to the master plan suddenly arose.
That plan includes area retail and commercial development that citizens in general in the area had been requesting for years.
"This project, by in large, has been a reconstruction of the runway, and so we didn't really feel like there was any controversy,” Duebner said. “We hadn't heard anything."
Duebner said that while runway reconstruction is set to begin this summer, Phase Four — a 600-foot runway extension — hasn't yet been funded by the state or approved by the City Council. He said public hearings for that phase have yet to be held.
Neighbors say they still feel the entire project should be put on hold.
“We are asking for the project to be respected,” Baker said.
Blazer and Crawford added that they are seeking "transparency" and to be included as citizens.
Duebner said he feels the city could have done a better job of getting the word out to citizens. It's an admission that is not likely to satisfy those citizens who still contend public notification laws were violated.