State, FAA Put Off Finishing Details for North Adams Airport

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Airport Commission was unhappy to learn that state and federal authorities are putting off marking the runway approaches until next year.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Finishing work on the runway approaches at Harriman-West Airport are being put off until next year for lack of funds.

Owen Silbaugh, a planner with Gale Associates, the airport's engineer, told the Airport Commission on Tuesday that there's no money for paint and markings on the approaches.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration don't have the funds, he said, and the airport will have to wait to have this aspect included in the project.

He said MassDOT and FAA see it as a 2015 project.

Commissioner Trevor Gilman wanted to know how a decision could be made without explaining the reasoning behind it.

"We have been trying to set up a conference call all last month to discuss this, and to me the numbers seem ridiculous," he said. "But even if the numbers are what the numbers are, why is it we can’t get a conference call to discuss it.

"I will drive to Boston and knock on the door myself and ask them if I have to. This is unacceptable."

Gilman said this is just a small aspect of the overall airport reconstruction and he finds it hard to believe it is not possible to find a way to add it in.

"We have been working on this approach for 20 years, we are ready to publish for April, and the cost of paint and globes, which is in the scheme of these projects isn't even noticeable, can’t be added to this project,” Gilman said.

Greenwald asked Silbaugh to reinforce how important this project is for the survival of the airport.

"We believe it is important to the continued viability of the airport, and … we believe this is paramount for driving revenue and therefore the continued survival of the airport," Greenwald said.

Silbaugh said the money-providers believe if the airport can wait 20 years for this project, it can wait another three months, and if they really want to get a jump on the project, they have to pay themselves.

"They can pay for it, but this is the time line that they can provide it," he said. "If you don't like that time line, you might have to pay for it."

The commission requested that Silbaugh try to set up another conference call.

In other business, the commission discussed the possibility of a 12-hour concert to be held Aug. 30. Resident Michael Wood is seeking to hold the event on the airport grounds.

"I personally think this is going to be an awful lot of fun, and it is very family oriented," Airport Manager William Greenwald said. "He said during the day there is going to be face painting, food vendors, and really a carnival environment, which I think is fantastic and really what we want to do to bolster the image of the airport with our public."

However, Greenwald has yet to hear back from Wood so the event is still tentative.

He said the size of the concert may have deterred Wood, who has set up such events in the past.

"I think Mike was a little shocked … and I was, too, a little overwhelmed, by the type of things he would have to do to have any sort of gathering of folks," Greenwald said. "I think the number was in excess of 150 people, you have to have two officers on duty, you have to have fire department representation, possibly EMS … and almost all of that comes with a price tag."

The License Board, meeting next door at the same time, was apprised of the request but declined to act on it without a formal application and more details.

Greenwald said if the concert does happen, it will not affect airport responsibilities and he will contact Wood for an update.

Tags: airport,   airport commission,   airport project,   harriman west,   

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