For the past few weeks Daryl Hickman, as the chairman of the usually obscure Flagler County Airport Advisory Board, brought that panel out of the shadows as he leveled serious and public criticism at the airport director and even the county commission that appoints board members. He was critical of what he saw as indifference or lack of respect for the board’s advisory role.
Hickman cited differences between the director and the advisory board over the handling of noise issues or the airport’s planned new terminal as examples, though last week it became clear that Hickman was not speaking for the advisory board on those issues: the board was divided, some of its members quite supportive of Roy Sieger, the airport director.
Monday evening, Hickman resigned.
He did so publicly, before the County Commission, but not before one final sally at the director, this time citing yet another issue that Hickman felt illustrated a lack of oversight on airport matters: a $250,000 county airport purchase of 15 acres adjoining the airport, to accommodate a planned, 15,000 square-foot general aviation terminal and administrative offices.
The commission approved the purchase later in the meeting, without comment: it was part of the commission’s consent agenda, where numerous items are grouped and approved in bulk, without discussion.
Hickman said the price of the acreage went up from $220,000 to $250,000, after the seller sought a second appraisal, though there’d been an initial agreement on the $220,000 price.
“Unfortunately this expenditure of fund would likely not have come about” if the airport had chosen any one of four other locations depicted in the airport master plan, Hickman told commissioners, or if “adequate oversight had been provided prior to the airport completing the 60 to 90 percent design phase of construction, which placed the project on land we currently do not own.”
He was referring to the design of the new terminal building. That planned building was the subject of at-times tense discussions between Hickman an Sieger at last week’s meeting of the advisory board, which was also attended by County Administrator Jerry Cameron. Hickman questioned the size of the building, considering it too large, and questioned the data in the master plan on which the size is based, saying the data may be out of date. Sieger defended the approach, and two of the board members later wanted to be clear that Hickman was not speaking for them.
“Throughout this process it was brought to the attention of the airport director that we might want to put a pause on this project and reevaluate its location, cost and scope,” Hickman said. (He had support for his approach from two members of the board, which consists of five members plus an alternate. The alternate appeared to fall on the other side of the debate.)
Asked for his reaction to Hickman’s resignation or his statements to the commission, Sieger today issued this statement: “I look forward to working with the County Administrator, Mr. Cameron, to update and define the Bylaws of the Airport Advisory Board. This will enable us to provide a clear definition of the role of an Airport Advisory Board member”.
Cameron and advisory board members had discussed that matter at last week’s meeting, and Cameron intends, in consultation with board members, to rewrite the advisory board’s by-laws.
“There are many projects and operational aspects of the airport that can use the oversight of professionals,” Hickman said Monday, concluding his remarks. “This oversight might likely contribute to maximizing the resource of the airport for the county’s gain. In my opinion the airport advisory group is one such group tasked with some of this deeded oversight. Unfortunately our concerns and opinions have largely been ignored and in this case has created an expenditure of $250,000 that might likely have been avoided with better communication and collaboration. Since I am subject solely to a reactionary position on an already determined outcome, I ask that with all due respect you accept my immediate resignation from your airport advisory bard. I’ll continue to work vigorously in the best interest of the airport, its users and the citizens that surround it, albeit without the apocryphal title of adviser.”
The commission did not address Hickman’s remarks. But later in the meeting, on advice from the county attorney, it formally accepted his resignation. That makes Les Abend, the vice chairman, chairman of the panel for now, while the commission searches and appoints a replacement. Abend had been a Hickman ally.
Hickman’s name was scrubbed from the county’s advisory board web page with remarkable speed.
Concerned Citizen says
Our county is ripe with corruption. They will not stand for anyone calling them out on their shenannigans. We would do well to remember this at election time.
But we won’t. And the same people will remain in office milking us dry until we are broke.
The Flagler Flight School Airport will never become a viable airport for corporate air traffic and will remain essentially a home to flight schools. Our county based on demographics will not support corporations that utilize jets. This is simply fact and not necessarily a negative for county residents.
The resigning board member should be commended for his stance and revelations regarding Mr. Seigar’s ability ( lack) to lead and actually put forth a viable business model, that being one the regulates the negative environmental noise impacts on neighbors. I believe the last master plan was a taxpayers funded study that neglected the impacts on neighbors and the reality of the Flight School Airport.
Mr. Seigar is a Coffey/Sherman protege/clone that like Sherman resigned and was re-hired at a significant salary boost which makes him at the top of Florida General Aviation Airports, some of which have actual corporate air traffic…..
What is happening is that commissioner continue to blindly accept the smoke and mirrors from Seigar with on-gong spending of millions of tax payers dollars through our State and Federal grant funds. Under his leadership the airport now has a failed million dollar plus office building ( ERAU walked away ) , a 19 million dollar runway that has lead to zero corporate jet growth, an multi-million dollar control tower without radar and pilots are required to operate with only visual flight rules. Private federally paid controllers that use binoculars and local landmarks to help guide air traffic. That makes you feel safe.
Why should anyone ( ie. commissioners) even remotely support a new administration building given the historical failures and reality that the Flagler Flight School Airport is not viable for any growth beyond the current flight schools usage. Even that they are unable to manage. STOP wasting our State and Federal tax dollars. These funds need to go to repairing our decaying infrastructure or perhaps a new Sheriff’s headquarters and so forth.
Just Me says
“. STOP wasting our State and Federal tax dollars. These funds need to go to repairing our decaying infrastructure or perhaps a new Sheriff’s headquarters and so forth.’
These tax dollars are for and can only be used in Aviation related projects.
I am truly saddened by your abrupt resignation from the Flagler County Airport Advisory Board. As we all know there are 2 sides to every situation but I can honestly say that after attending several meetings it is crystal clear that you are/were passionate about interest of the airport, its users and the citizens that surround it. It will truly be the Airport Advisory Board’s monumental loss. I always said YOU would be the great airport Director and I know that I am not the only person who feels that this position of airport director should be YOURS! We were/ are all hoping to see this happen. Please know that for all of us that had the chance to speak with you, you will be missed!
Edith Campins says
Looks like the County Commission’s record of questionable land/building purchases continues. Who is incompetent that negotiates this purchases for more than they are worth?
So sad to that Daryl resigned his post on the board. He, like most of the board members is committed to airport, it’s responsible growth and impact on the surrounding community. It’s shameful that their leadership and institutional knowledge falls on deaf ears. Mr. Hickman and the other board members were justified in recommending a moment of pause with the building of a terminal that seems to be far more than this county needs. I applaud Roy in seeking and receiving grant money for the airport projects. However, grants should be sought to further the goals of an organization not to define it. The executive traffic does not support the airport master plan nor the new terminal, no matter how the data is framed. Get rid of the flight schools and the non radar control tower that attracts them and the traffic would be reduced to locals, the fire helicopter and occasional visitors. Good luck Daryl, sad to see you go.
Mr. Reese says
Mr. Cameron needs to start acting like the man in charge. Example of ” The Peter Principle ” at it’s finest.
Reduce the flights schools from our county airport. These schools mostly if not all train foreign pilots from the middle east rich kingdoms or corporations and not our American pilots students for which our airlines have a severe shortage of . Our American pilots students can’t afford these schools this is why we have charities like “Teens In Flight” so some of our teens afford to train. Since they decided to build the non radar tower the schools practice of touch and goes nuisance had increase to an a non acceptable level for the adjacent communities. The so called “Airport Enterprise” does not sustain itself as is always funded by grants from Fed, State and probably some undercover digging in our county general funds non assigned as we are lied by the FCBOCC all the time. Like the Plantation Bay utility was also to be paid by its users only and now we are all in the hole for over 15 millions.
These Embry Riddel and other schools are allowed by our inconsiderate FCBOCC and its airport director to practice here after being kicked from Volusia Cty given the unbearable noise and danger nuisance created there…so not only the so called Airport Enterprise does not contribute to the surrounding neighbors tax base but torture them with the festering foreign pilots training.
Every time we endured and emergency landing in this county major roads or overpasses among the vehicular traffic endangering us all, the pilot at the commands was middle eastern named. I have nothing against them but the memories of 911 still fresh about the Florida trained killers that took the commands. If these rich kingdoms and corporations send their pilots here to train should be done in a rural setting away from crowded communities and on an airstrip and “tower built by them and controlled and manned by us” in our leased land and for the sake of our own national security.
This airport corporate use income is another lie. Thank you Mr Hickman and I agree that you should be the airport director. Sad to see compassion and responsibility going away with you. Elections are coming and maybe some change at the airport commands as well. Is time to ask to those campaigning out there what are they going to do about the airport nuisance if elected.