Friday, February 03, 2012

Dyersburg Regional (KDYR), Tennessee: Airport committee holds off on restaurant decision

The airport committee met on Thursday morning and decided to hold off on choosing a restaurant until the issues could be discussed with the city attorney.

Mary Lou Parker (left) and her CPA Joe Enochs (right) were present at Thursday's meeting to discuss her bid proposal on the restaurant. Parker used to run the restaurant before Dyersburg Air Service took over airport operations.

Friday, February 3, 2012
Dyersburg State Gazette

The city airport committee held its first meeting of the new year on Thursday morning. It was also the committee's first meeting since the city took over operations at the Dyersburg Municipal Airport on Dec. 7, 2011. The committee heard an update from newly appointed Airport Manager Tommy Gibbons on the upgrades made to the airport in the short time he has been manager.

One of the most impressive updates given by Gibbons was the comparison of fuel sales in January 2012 to January 2011.

"When we took over one of the first things we did was drop the cost of fuel by 50 cents a gallon," said Gibbons. "The result was that our fuel sales were up by about 16 percent in January compared to January of last year."

Mayor John Holden explained to the committee that the city researched what fuel costs should be in the area and after checking with several area airports the city settled on a price that makes them competitive.

"We want to encourage everyone to buy their fuel from us," said Gibbons, who commented that the fuel vendor had not changed, just the profit margin.

Gibbons detailed other changes made to the airport including replacing lighting and carpeting in the interior offices. He also took a moment to thank Kenny Bali and Taner Bali whom he credits in assisting him with the transition. Dyersburg Air Service employed Kenny Bali and Taner Bali and the city retained their services when they took over operations in December. Gibbons also thanked the various departments such as the street and sanitation department and the Dyersburg Police Department for their support.

After being given the update on the progress of the airport, the biggest improvement on everyone's mind was the restaurant. The city accepted bids for a restaurant operator through Jan. 25, 2012 and City Purchasing Agent Greg Williams presented the two proposals received to the committee for their consideration.

The two vendors that submitted proposals were Mary Lou Parker, who had previously operated a restaurant at the airport, and James Barnham. Parker's proposal would feature a country-style buffet while Barnham's would feature a counter-service barbecue menu. According to Williams, a key difference in the two proposals is that Barnham's included an offer to pay $300 in rent to the city while Parker's asked that rent not be charged in the first year.

"At the end of the first year, I'll open my books and we can determine what would be a fair rent," said Parker, who was in attendance at Thursday's meeting.

Holden expressed his concern to the committee that although from the numerous phone calls he received he knows that Ms. Parker has a following, he is concerned about his responsibility to the citizens of Dyersburg.

"It is hard for me to justify no rent when someone who is equally experienced is willing to pay rent," said Holden.

Joe Enochs, who is Parker's CPA, was also in attendance and explained to the committee that Parker's request is due to the fact that it is going to take some time before people return to the airport and it is profitable.

"This will be the ultimate destination restaurant," said Enochs. "You may be giving up a little rent now but in the long run, she will pay rent if it is justified."

Parker also asked that the committee consider the possibility that taking something for the profit has not always been in the best interest of the airport.

"You took a good thing before but it didn't last," said Parker. "Now the airport is worst off than it ever has been."

Holden suggested that the committee hold off in making a recommendation until the matter could be discussed with the city attorneys to ensure that the city was not obligated to take the bid that included rental fees. The committee agreed and asked that the mayor communicate to city attorney John Lannom the desire to move quickly on the matter.

In other business the committee unanimously approved the selection of Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon out of Memphis as the engineering firm to conduct the study on the runway project for which the city received federal funding in 2011.


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