Tue, Feb. 18

Cottonwood Council terminates Red Rock Skydiving airport lease

COTTONWOOD -- A tenant at the Cottonwood Airport has been given 120 days to vacate the space leased from the city. Red Rock Skydiving has already been operating on a month-to-month lease.

It's not because the business itself has bad practices. Red Rock Skydiving has been widely popular and hailed as a very efficient and safe operation. City council members and staf members say it is a good business.

Instead, it is the alleged "passionate" way operator Carl Priggee adheres to enforcement of airport practices that has dogged the business in recent years.

April 14, a paraglider operator said that he made several attempts to take off from the airport but powered down as a parachute approached and Priggee, operating the jump plane, had to circle and approach again, while the paraglider got off the ground.

The small craft operator, Greg Schill, told city officials that Priggee approached him on the ground and berated him about not giving right of way to aircraft.

He is alleged to have claimed the he, Priggee, was in charge at the airport and that the paraglider operator had no right to be on the runway and, further, that ultralights and paragliders would not be allowed at the airport at all.

The Cottonwood Airport Commission held an emergency meeting over the matter.

Most of 2014 passed with no incidents, but Priggee had angered the Commission and the city repeatedly during 2013 when he approached ultralight aircraft operators making similar claims. One man insisted that Priggee damaged his ultralight when he pushed it for 20 feet.

The city says that Carl Priggee is a tenant with no other authority to police or remove anyone from the airport. City officials advised Priggee that he may not exclude anyone from the public airport.

In November last year, the council gave the operation only a conditional lease extension.

At that time, Manager Doug Bartosh said that Red Rock Skydiving is a good business, but it is "the way that Carl Priggee handles situations that makes him a difficult tenant."

A competition skydiver and another pilot rose to defend Priggee. His wife, Sharon, represented the company and answered question during the council meeting.

Council members wanted assurance that even though the airport land lease is being terminated that Priggee would still be able to operate from the airport.

Councilman Tim Elinski finally formed the motion to terminate saying that "the tenant has a record of being passionate to the point of bullying."

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