Investigator: Makeover for airport boss's office; public repairs as well

8:04 PM, Jun 23, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- At a time when the roof at Hopkins Airport is leaking and needs to be replaced, the airport's administrative offices are undergoing an extreme makeover.

In response to our story, although airport boss Ricky Smith still isn't talking, airport insiders tell the Investigator Tom Meyer that maintenance crews spent Thursday making repairs that impact passengers, not only airport executives.

Wednesday night at 11, we told the story that the airport is spending $1.9 million on office expansion and renovations. It represents 53 percent of the total cost of the project. The remainder of the money is going toward upgrading all electrical and mechanical systems, based on a Channel 3 News review of contract documents for the project.

The renovations come at a time when two airport employees said the roof has leaked at least five times over the past few months. 

Last month, water dripped on to a $300,000 scanner at a TSA security checkpoint.  The scanner had to be taken off-line, creating long lines for passengers.

"One night, the rain was pouring in so badly, they came looking for umbrellas and plastic tarps to cover the machines. The fire department was even there one night," said an airport employee, who spoke on condition she wouldn't be identified for fear she would be fired.

A spokesman said airport director Ricky Smith was busy and unavailable to answer questions about the office renovations.  One question for Smith is why is it necessary for him to have his own personal bathroom and shower as part of the expensive renovation.

Smith is the highest paid Cleveland city employee, hauling in $208,533 a year.

"The timing is very poor. They're asking everybody else to bite the bullet and try to be conservative with spending and here they are spending all this money. I think the roof should be fixed first," said the employee.

In addition to the roof, employees said other areas of the airport are in need of repair.

They complained about broken bathroom fixtures and toilet seats. Passengers using the women's restroom in Concourse C are greeted with a 10 foot long garden hose with one end hanging from the ceiling and the other end inside a bucket of dirty water.

"Being that there are so many other problems with the building, it just seems the administrative offices should be a low priority," said one employee. 


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