To the editor:
I was not at all surprised by the announcement by Mr. Jim Morris of his intent to run for mayor. Therefore, with the race between Mr. Morris and Mr. Steve Reid (alluded to by Mr. Morris as “the candidate that announced earlier”) more or less official, I have a question for the candidates regarding the airport, the City of Greenville, and image.
What are your plans for the airport? This simple question has the potential for a very complex and dangerous answer. No doubt, the main drive behind your candidacies for mayor is driven in part by the current legal actions of L-3 Communications. I’m very interested in how you intend to solve this problem while maintaining the grant assurances that the city has undertaken for airport maintenance and operation.
While I have only lived here for 26 years, my background is deeply rooted in aviation. I have been very involved with this airport for more than a decade, both professionally and recreationally. One thing that has always held back growth and development of airport services and facilities, and conversely local economic development, has been the image of the airport. This image problem didn’t happen in the past two years and has little to do with the legal woes of the City of Greenville. It has been a documented problem since 2004 and goes well beyond. The image of the city is no different. Greenville has always had an image problem, regardless of who is in office.
L-3 Communications, and its legacy companies, have long been perceived in the aviation community as the 600-pound gorilla in charge of the airfield. General aviation has struggled for years under the increasing weight bureaucratic red tape stretching back over the entire time I’ve lived here. There have been what appear to be different standards by which general aviation is held accountable.
While I appreciate the work that the company does for the good of the nation, I have grown more concerned with the way I am treated as a private operator and citizen at the Greenville Municipal Airport. I have pushed for a long time for total airport development. Because of the perception that general aviation is unwelcome at the airport, I fought opposition within my own circles to focus on Greenville as a viable place to operate. Now, my concern is that I am considered one of those that “do not fit our program and need to be replaced.”
As mayoral candidates, I’ll ask three more questions that have been floated for years. Questions seldom heard outside of the airport. If you are elected:
1. Will general aviation have a place at Greenville Municipal Airport?
2. Will L-3 Communications support or challenge any potential future general aviation development?
3. Will L-3 Communications control all aviation operations and activities at Greenville Municipal Airport?