CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Lynn DeVault, recognized by many as the driving force behind the establishment of the Cleveland Jetport, has been reappointed to the facility's governing body.
Her return to the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority coincides with board conflicts concerning operational staffing and a call by the current chairman, Lou Patten, to dissolve the airport panel all together.
On Monday, the Cleveland City Council voted 7-0 to appoint DeVault to fill a vacancy resulting from the resignation of Leroy Rymer from the five-member board in December. Rymer's term was to expire in September.facebook
DeVault opposed Patten's proposal to dissolve the airport authority and place the jetport's administration directly under the city's wings, citing ongoing obligations to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
"In transferring this, the city has to assume all those assurances we gave to the FAA, assume all the obligations to maintain minimum standards, assume all responsibilities for operating the airport and assume all the liabilities," DeVault said. "To dissolve the airport authority is nonsense. It just doesn't make any sense."
Patten said the authority has achieved its sole mission of opening a modern airport, which is approaching its third anniversary and scored a $91,000 operational surplus in its last fiscal year.
"Quite frankly, I don't believe the Authority is needed any longer," said Patten in a Jan. 4 letter to the Mayor Tom Rowland and the Cleveland City Council, equating the panel to an unnecessary layer of "bureaucratic oversight."
DeVault alleged Patten's proposed dissolution of the Cleveland Airport Authority, which was not publicly discussed or voted on by the body, was really about sharp infighting over whether to continue to use an airport service provider to handle the jetport's operational needs.
"As you can tell, I'm very emotionally wound up in this thing," DeVault said. "I've spent 10 years of my life getting this right, and to think somebody just want's to dissolve the Airport Authority over a silly inability to agree on management structure is absurd."
The airport panel's mission continues and the City Council needs to consider appointing "the right people" to align with the jetport's needs, DeVault said.
City Attorney John Kimball said the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority could have as many as 10 members. A city ordinance currently limits the body to five members.
In related business, the Cleveland City Council voted 7-0 in support of Councilman Bill Estes' proposal to seek an opinion from the State Attorney General concerning the process for dissolving a municipal airport authority.
No date has been announced concerning the next meeting of the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority, but officials said they expected it to occur before the City Council meeting on Jan. 25.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.