Karen Cameron doesn't spend much time in her front garden anymore. Her yard, though separated from Dallas Executive Airport by Ledbetter Drive and a winding, tree-lined front driveway, is made unbearable, or at the very least extremely unpleasant, by the roaring engines and noxious jet fuel that waft over from the nearest runway.
Cameron more or less accepts that this as part of the bargain. Planes are loud, jet fuel stinks, and neither noise nor smell cares much for property boundaries. She just doesn't want it to get any worse, and she's worried the city's $35 million runway expansion could do just that. Or maybe not.
"I'm not saying that I am against it," she says. "I'm just saying they've [the city] not been transparent."
By not transparent, Cameron means that there haven't been any public meetings or direct communication with neighborhood leaders, just a recent presentation to the City Council's Economic Development Committee, which they read about in The Dallas Morning News. Cameron and neighbors have since wrangled a public meeting with Dallas aviation director Mark Duebner, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. next Thursday at Dallas Executive's conference room, but they say it should have happened way earlier in the process.
Duebner says they probably have a point. "We started working on the master plan for Executive back in 2012 and did have a public meeting where we notified the surrounding homeowners," he says, but it's "been a long time."
"Truth be told we could always do a better job of getting the information out to the public."
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In this case, Duebner says the changes will be relatively minor. Though the runway extension, from 6,400 to 7,000 feet, will allow it to accommodate the slightly heavier jets favored by many corporations, the primary purpose is to repair the existing concrete, which is on the verge of slipping below FAA standards. Overall, the runway redo and associated improvements at Dallas Executive aren't an expansion so much as a refurbishment.
Then again, increasing noise and smells and other things an airport's neighbors might find bothersome is the whole point. Right now, the airport is struggling. The city wants to change that, turning it into a thriving regional hub capable of competing with suburban airports, where corporate jets are frequently landing and taking off.
"We don't see it being as busy as Addison, taking off every minute and a half," Duebner says, but a significant hike in traffic would be nice.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.