Mayor denies airport proposal just before Treeces release planWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | email@example.com
Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins will not support any plan to privatize management of Toledo’s airports and would veto any legislation City Council proposes on the matter, he said during a news conference April 2.
“If they (City Council) pursue legislation to change the operation of the airport, I hope they have the nine votes necessary to overturn my veto because I will veto it,” Collins said.
In response, Dock David Treece, who along with his father Dock Treece and brother Ben Treece, have expressed interest in taking over management of Toledo’s regional airports from Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, said they will release their management plan for Toledo Express Airport and Toledo Executive Airport.
Flanked by Port Authority President Paul Toth and Port Authority board vice president Jim Tuschman, Collins said the purpose of his statement was to make it clear to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Ohio Air National Guard 180th Fighter Wing that he stands with and supports the Port Authority, who have operated the airports since 1973.
“Over the past several months, discussion of privatizing airports has fostered a sense of insecurity as to the future of our airport,” Collins said. “So today I’m taking another step to demonstrate the city’s commitment to the Port Authority, to the tenants of the airport and to the Federal Aviation Administration. My administration is not going to — and let me repeat this — my administration is not going to entertain any plans as it relates to the privatization of our airports.”
Although the city, which owns both airports, has never officially addressed or considered the prospect of privatizing airport management, Councilman Rob Ludeman, who chairs the economic development committee, had recently proposed an informational hearing to discuss the idea. He was talking with the Treeces to set a date later this month or early May.
“The issue is out there and, for full disclosure and transparency, I think it’s worthwhile to have an informational meeting to see what the possibilities are, if any,” Ludeman told Toledo Free Press on March 21. “If it turns out it’s not a concept that’s going to work at this time, so be it, but at least other Council members and the public can come and hear what all parties have to say.”
Collins said the proposed committee hearing did not prompt his statement, but rather cited the “confusion and lack of predictability” the informal discussions have produced.
“I am standing next to my partner the Port Authority in this endeavor and I am committed to solidarity and the commitment to the future of our airport under the way it’s being handled today, unless someone has any more practical and sensible position that can facilitate the Port Authority’s mission — not detract from it and not demean it, challenge it or question the credibility of its leadership,” he said.
Toth said the uncertainty makes the FAA and 180th nervous and could affect FAA funding, including $6 million in renovation projects tentatively approved by FAA.
“Only recently have they (the FAA) come back to us and are very concerned with all of what they are reading about privatizing the airport and whether they’re really interested in continuing to invest federal dollars into an airport that could become privatized,” Toth said.
Treece, who attended the news conference, said afterward that he’s disappointed in the mayor’s stance, but will not abandon their plan.
“[I'm feeling] a little discouraged although we would say this is nothing more than a delay really,” Treece said. “The problems threatening Toledo Express and Toledo Executive are numerous and while this certainly delays things, it in no way provides a solution. So really it’s just kicking the can down the road. Unfortunately there are some who prefer to play ostrich to addressing problems directly. Eventually they are going to have to be solved. We are going to continue to work and develop our plan and seek solutions and stand ready for whenever the city and Port Authority decide they finally need us.
“I would hope people would understand we don’t just wade into anything lightly, that we’ve consulted with consultants that are really known around the world for their experience,” Treece said. “Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of aggressive misrepresentation of the project. There are people saying that we want to privatize the airport which means something different to the FAA than saying we want to privatize the operations of the airport. So when the FAA reads about our project, they immediately get a bad taste in their mouth that isn’t necessarily due.”
The Port Authority estimates Toledo Express Airport brings a $200 million economic impact to the region, with about $110 million coming from the 180th.
Although the Treeces posted their marketability study to their website, www.toledoairports.com, late last year, they been holding back on releasing the plan citing concerns that someone would steal their ideas if the city did decide to put management of the airport to bid. The site also contains a summary of their qualifications and experience, frequently asked questions and a contact form.
Dock is president of Treece Investment Advisory Corp. and his sons are both partners in the family-owned and operated Toledo firm. The Treeces are also Toledo Free Press and 1370 WSPD contributors.