North Adams Airport Panel Delays Project Vote; Talks Derelict Plane

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Airport Commission delayed a vote on the next phase of the apron project until it could confirm the city's contribution.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – The Airport Commission tabled the approval of Phase 2 apron plans until the full board could meet.

Gale Associates, the commission's engineers, provided alternatives on Thursday for the next step in the project.

The commission, however, was hesitant to vote because it did not have a full board and had not yet heard if the city can cover the 5 percent local share needed for the project to be funded.

"I'd rather table this and call a special meeting next week when I know all of the members will be available and when the mayor may have an answer," Chairman Jeffrey Naughton.

Representatives from Gale recommended alternative 2, which includes full reconstructing the apron and the fixed-base operator building. Because there is no extension to the apron, which is included in alternative 1, the city would not have to pay for fixed-rate surveys and additional soil work. Many other aspects of the project can be changed to reduce local contribution but these cannot.

If proper funding could not be found the project would only be delayed.

The third option called for reconstruction of the apron and partial construction of the fixed-base operator building.

Gale representatives said the taxiway may have to be shut down during construction to avoid construction vehicles driving over the newly placed apron, but Airport Manager William Greenwald said this would not be an issue.

Alternative 2 would also decrease the amount of tie-down spaces by 30 percent. This would bring the 24 spots down to 15.

Greenwald said it should not be an issue, but he would be worried about transient planes that need to tie down temporarily.

"You look at the airport at any time, the number varies form eight or nine maybe 10," Greenwald said. "It fluctuates depending on the season. What I do worry about, we do get a lot of transient flights that come in that would want to tie down."

The commission discussed possibly adding two more spots near an apron exit and taxi planes out differently.

Greenwald also reported that he would like to remove a derelict plane form the airport. He said the owner never signed a contract, but has been paying dues on the tie down.

He said he has been having a hard time contacting the owner.

"So what they are doing right now, it is very clear, is playing us," he said. "They don't believe that we will have enough spine to pursue this so they are letting this piece of junk sit there, and it is a danger to the airport."

Greenwald said the airport's regulations allows the commission to remove derelict planes if need be. He said there are two sources willing to remove the plane and use it as collateral. If the owner does not pay for the removal, he or she would lose the plane.

One of the interested movers wants to purchase the plane and restore it.

Commissioner James Neville asked if they could move the plane somewhere else on the airport grounds and charge the owner for daily storage, much like what happens when a car is towed.

Greenwald said he would be afraid of any liability if the plane was damaged during the moving process.

The regulations have been reviewed by the city solicitor, however, Naughton suggested running the commission's plans by him again to make sure they are acting correctly.

"The last thing we want to do is get the city in a legal battle," he said. "I want to make sure we are on firm ground here."

Greenwald also told the commission that although the Department of Public Works is plowing the airport in a very timely manner, it is doing it in a way that damages lights.

The plows are being adjacent to the edges of the runway and that is breaking lights.

He said he felt uncomfortable asking them to change how they do it because they are so busy.

"The city is short staffed, and they have a gun to their head trying to get anything done," he said. "Do we sit here and be frankly grateful it is being done in a timely manner or … try to improve the quality of the job?"

Naughton suggested the Greenwald continue to show gratitude but he should just inform the DPW of the lights because it is a cost to the city.


Tags: airport commission,   airport project,   

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