DuPage Airport Authority Responds to Secret Plan that Could Invalidate Airport's Past and Present FAA Funding

Jun 09, 2010, 06:00 ET from Daniel L. Goodwin for DuPage Airport Authority

WEST CHICAGO, Ill., June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is on behalf of the DuPage Airport Authority:

In an effort to understand what exactly DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom intends to accomplish with his plan for control of real estate known as the DuPage National Technology Park, the DuPage Airport Authority ("DAA") announced it had invited Schillerstrom to personally appear before the DAA Board today to explain his objectives and motives.

"As a Board responsible to the taxpayers of DuPage County, we are struggling to understand why Mr. Schillerstrom, whose term as County Board Chairman expires at the end of this year, is so determined to restructure the Park in a way that could increase the financial burden on taxpayers while at the same time delaying development," said Dan Goodwin, Chairman of the DAA Board.

"Out of fairness, we have respectfully asked Chairman Schillerstrom to join our regular meeting today to explain his reasoning and what he hopes to accomplish," Goodwin said. "We have to ask, 'Is this good for the taxpayers?'"

The DAA Board is scheduled to convene its public meeting at 3 p.m. today at the DuPage Airport Flight Center first floor conference room.

Site History

Nearly five years after its launch in September 2005, the Technology Park includes just one business occupant. Just two buildings are erected on the site – one is occupied and the other is empty. The balance of the site is empty.

The Tech Park exists entirely on land owned by the DuPage Airport Authority, and it is entirely funded by support from the airport, but the business activities at the Park are managed by the non-governmental Tech Park Board dominated by Schillerstrom appointees. In the last three years, the Tech Park Board governing the 800-acre site has not signed a single lease or built a single building.

Schillerstrom's Demands

Over the last three months, Schillerstrom presented the DAA with a series of demands concerning control of the 800-acre site. Schillerstrom, through an attorney for the Tech Park Board, delineated his demands in the form of a draft Memorandum of Understanding presented to the DAA. The DAA has negotiated with Schillerstrom over those demands, but Schillerstrom refused to compromise:

  • Schillerstrom wants the DAA to provide at least $500,000 a year to the Tech Park to subsidize its operations for a period of 20 years – a total cost for taxpayers in excess of $10 million.
  • Schillerstrom wants the DAA to transfer full control over the land to the Tech Park Board, a non-governmental entity exempt from both the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act, and not subject to municipal auditing standards.
  • Schillerstrom wants the DAA to allow the Tech Park Board to sell or lease land for less than half of what taxpayers paid to acquire the land.
  • Schillerstrom wants the DAA to give the Tech Park Board 40 percent of any proceeds derived from the sale or lease of airport land.

Schillerstrom's demands could potentially compromise Federal Aviation Administration funding for the airport – including past funding – due to the FAA's prohibition against Revenue Diversion.

Schillerstrom has refused to offer any cogent basis for his demands. However, Schillerstrom threatened to replace DAA Board members who refused to acquiesce to his demands, and he has begun that process.

DAA Response

In response, the DAA said that the Tech Park Board should first obtain a true feasibility study, an appraisal of the land, and approval from the Federal Aviation Administration – none of which the Tech Park has done. Schillerstrom has steadfastly refused to authorize any studies despite the fact that the DAA has offered to cover that cost.

In May, the DAA Board unanimously approved a resolution embodying its response and asking for studies to provide objective data.

"Several respected authorities, including the Technology Park Board's own Chairman as well as the state's economic development director and the Mayor of West Chicago, say it's time for the Airport to focus on developing a general business park on the site to grow jobs and boost the local economy," Goodwin said. "We're certainly open to hearing Schillerstrom's explanation for implementing his plan. But, ultimately, the most important point is that we do what's best for the taxpayers."

SOURCE Daniel L. Goodwin for DuPage Airport Authority