In its annual 2014-2015 published report, the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury found no fault with the Oakdale Airport or its operation with the exception of a minor issue that involved a segment of fencing being too low.
The report stated they received a citizen’s complaint regarding the management of the airport citing issues extending back more than a decade. Matters cited in the complaint were poor maintenance, favoritism toward the “major tenant,” restriction in allowing new tenants, safety and security and not utilizing FAA funds to maintain the airport.
The safety and security issues were defined as lighting, obsolete entrance gates, no security cameras and inadequate perimeter fencing.
Last September, the Civil Grand Jury made a formal request to the City of Oakdale for records pertaining to the operation and maintenance of Oakdale Municipal Airport.
At the time City Manager Bryan Whitemyer said he welcomed the inquiry to be transparent.
The Grand Jury visited the airport and had various discussions with Whitemyer and a facilities engineer concerning the condition of the airport and the steps that were being taken to address the complaints. Members also reviewed the airport’s grant agreements and FAA regulations.
The only safety concern was the height of the airport entrance fence.
As a result of its investigation the Grand Jury report stated it did not find any discrepancies in financial records from 2012 to 2014 and there was no indication of favoritism among tenants.
The report did state an FAA investigation of the same concerns was still pending.
“The city appreciates the grand jury’s thorough review of the city’s management of the airport,” said Whitemyer when contacted about the results. “The city is committed to continue improving the airport to better serve our community.”
Whitemyer added that the city has already developed a plan to make the needed improvements to the airport entrance fence.
“The Grand Jury didn’t investigate this properly,” said Bill Bradford, a tenant and past vocal critic of the airport’s management. “The report misses the maleficence of Sierra West (Airlines).”
“The site visit included discussions with the major tenant of the airport facilities,” the jury’s report states. “The major tenant provided a tour of their occupied areas, some of which they had recently renovated for pilot training and technician training.”
“Sierra West hasn’t done real maintenance in the building,” Bradford said. “I’ve been told and seen one thing, they told the Grand Jury one thing, and others are being told another.”
Bradford explained that he feels Sierra West Airlines is not being totally operated as an aviation-oriented business, stating there were up to 13 other non-aeronautical related businesses being operated at the Oakdale facility.
Bradford is hoping the FAA’s letter will identify what he classified as “real issues” wrong with the airport and feels the letter will be coming soon.