The Airport Commission made final changes to a request for proposals for a restaurant at the new terminal.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Airport Commission made some final changes to the proposed Terminal Building request for proposals that will be released in the coming months.
Administrative Officer Michael Canales had asked the Airport Commission last week firm up some of the requirements built into the restaurant RFP, specifically preferences for hours of operation and meals served.
"It is in good shape and ready to go but one of the final decisions that ultimately rests with the committee is establishing requirements and minimum criteria," Canales said. "How many restrictions do you want to place on this that is the last piece we need to know."
The vacant medical building donated to the city by Berkshire Health Systems was moved farther back onto the airport campus and is currently being renovated to serve as Harriman & West Airport's administrative building.
Along with housing airport offices, the space will also accommodate a restaurant.
The city used an RFP that the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport used to solicit interest in a new restaurant operator as a template.
Canales said potential operators will be scored in multiple categories. The categories are highly advantageous, advantageous, not advantageous, and not applicable.
The commission originally leaned toward a restaurant minimally open five days a week Monday through Friday serving lunch and dinner. Preference would be given to those planning to be open six days a week and those who plan to serve breakfast.
Airport user Trevor Gilman said demanding that a restaurant be open Monday through Friday may force it to close on a day during the weekend. He said optimally it should be open both Saturday and Sunday.
"Most airport restaurants are attracting airport crowds on the weekends and I am not saying that most of their business would be airport transient traffic, it will mostly be local people," he said. "But to have an airport restaurant that is not open on the weekends would be the first that I encountered."
Airport user Michael Milazzo agreed and said most restaurants are not open seven days a week. He said they often close earlier during the week.
The commission agreed to eliminate the requirement of being open Monday through Friday. The only requirement kept in the RFP was that the restaurant be open at least five days a week.
The commissioners also agreed to loosen up on meal requirements and Commissioner Dean Bullett said it may be hard for a restaurant to sustain lunch for the entire year.
"I just worry about during the offseason having them to do lunch five days a week," Bullett said. "Even some of our best restaurants in town close a lot and just do dinner during the offseason."
The commission agreed that anything beyond this would receive preferential points.
"We want to make it easier for them to be open," acting Chairman Shaun Dougherty said. "We don’t want to hamstring them."
Peter Enzien of Stantec Consulting Services, the airport's engineer, did give the commission a project update and said they hope to have the entire project completed by the end of the month.
"We are getting very close to getting everything wrapped up," he said. "We think we will get the certificate of occupancy and by the end of the month early next month address punch list items."
He said they plan a final walkthrough and that there is still fencing be installed near the restaurant seating area and the gas fireplaces to be set.
"We just go the flue covers in now, it is just scheduling the plumber, the electrician, the roofer, and the fire placer person," he said. "There are four or five different contractors that need to be present during the installation."
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