Air show evictions averted
BY CHRIS HAMILTON
NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
AIR SHOW: Hermantown families reach an agreement with Monaco Air Duluth Airshow organizers who erroneously told them they had to vacate their homes.
Monaco Air Duluth Airshow organizers announced an agreement Wednesday with Duluth International Airport neighbors who were incorrectly told to leave their homes July 7-9 because of safety concerns.
Air show officials blamed miscommunication and poor information for creating a stir last month among six families who live on Lavaque Road in Hermantown.
But face-to-face meetings, $250 cash and a $50 restaurant gift certificate were enough to convince Allison and Robert Pagnac to change their plans and find something else to do from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for three days, they said. That's when the performances run.
"It's just too much work to argue about it anymore," Allison Pagnac said. "I'd rather stay in my home, but what am I going to do? You can't cancel the air show."
David Boe, public relations director for the air show, said even if the families hadn't agreed to leave they could have come up with an alternative plan. One possibility was moving "the box" to make sure the show went on, he said.
The homes in question are in the air show box, a 6,000-by-3,000-foot zone the Federal Aviation Administration wants cleared in case an air show act, such as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, goes awry.
Monaco Air Duluth Airshow President Ryan Kern last month told the families they must vacate their homes for the air show to comply with FAA regulations. Kern then offered the Lavaque Road families a free pass to the air show.
Hermantown police, however, said a private enterprise has no right to kick people out of their homes.
"I regret there was any misunderstanding about the possibility of them being evicted from their homes," Boe wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. "That was never the case. If we didn't explain their rights as property owners sufficiently, we'll take the hit for it."
Kern called the new resolution mutually beneficial.
Allison Pagnac's daughter-in-law, Melissa, said she'll probably just go into work earlier.
"We really didn't want to ruin the air show for everyone," said Melissa Pagnac. "This is kind of a shocker. I never understood the whole ordeal."
She said she remains worried about her three elderly neighbors.
Boe said he was told those residents didn't require any special accommodations.
Lavaque Road resident Ole Ugstad, 86, said he and his wife, Anna, are on the edge of the box and might be exempt from the FAA requirements. If it turns out they aren't, he said they'll be fine.
"I got trouble getting around, but I can figure something out," Ole Ugstad said.
CHRIS HAMILTON covers Duluth City Hall and neighborhoods. He can be reached weekdays at (218) 279-5502 or on the Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org