The Dallas City Council agreed Wednesday to give the Commemorative Air Force up to $2 million for its move to Dallas Executive Airport. But the expected decision didn’t land swiftly and quietly.
Following some airport neighbors’ concerns, council member Scott Griggs asked Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans whether Dallas Executive had noise-monitoring equipment similar to that used at Love Field.
Evans said no. Griggs asked when it would be in place. “At least 18 months,” Evans replied, prompting the council member to call for a 30-day deadline, drawing applause from the crowd.
“If we are going to grow south, we need to treat Dallas Love Field and Dallas Executive Airport the same way. And that means having protections for our community,” Griggs said in a reference to GrowSouth, Mayor Mike Rawlings’ development initiative for southern Dallas. “Just as we are making a commitment to the CAF, we need to make a commitment to the citizens that live around the airport.”
Council member Vonciel Jones Hill, whose district includes the airport in the Red Bird area, said she opposed the 30-day limit because “it attempts to handicap what is a coup for the city of Dallas.”
She went on to criticize critics of the Commemorative Air Force relocation and of Dallas Executive, claiming that when the airport master plan was “rolled out … I didn’t see these folks there talking.”
“The only people who took an interest in that were Mr. Atkins and myself,” she said, referencing Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins.
Hill said she lives closer to the airport than any of its opponents. “They have misrepresented,” she said, stopping mid-sentence and raising her voice to shush rumblings from the audience. “Excuse me, it is my time to speak.” Rawlings intervened, telling the audience, “All right, guys. This isn’t interactive stuff. It’s not the State of the Union where we applaud every sentence. OK?”
Hill praised the CAF’s plan to base its nationwide operation of vintage military aircraft at Dallas Executive.
“We need to move forward with this,” she said of the financial incentives. The $2 million for the CAF was approved unanimously. And officials pledged to have sound-measuring equipment in place as soon as possible. Mark Duebner, the city’s aviation director, said four sound devices, costing no more than $100,000, could be operating in six months.
“Dallas is proud,” Rawlings said after the vote.
The CAF would receive up to $2 million from the city if it builds a museum and hangar at the airport by the end of 2020. The structure would have to cover at least 35,000 square feet and cost at least $5 million.
Separately, the council last month approved a $700,000 grant to the CAF.
The organization must employ at least 30 people at Dallas Executive, base nine aircraft there and meet other conditions.
On Wednesday, the council authorized a 39-year lease with the CAF. It pays the city $1,000 a year in rent.