NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Airport Commission will work with the city to figure out the future management structure at the airport that could include including lumping the manager position in with a Fixed Base Operator Agreement.
The commission granted Chairman Jeff Naughton and Administrative Officer Angie Ellison permission last week to begin reviewing applications for both a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) and a new airport manager.
"The FBO and the airport manager are linked together so it makes sense to proceed this way," Naughton said.
Longtime Airport Manager Bill Greenwald has decided to step away from the part-time position.
And now with the new airport administrative building essentially complete, the commission solicited interest from potential FBOs.
An FBO is an organization granted permission by an airport to operate at the airport and provide aeronautical services.
Naughton asked for permission to begin discussions with potential FBO Jamie Hildenbrandt. He said no agreement would be made without coming to the full commission first.
"We just want to explore a little further," he said.
He went on to say that the city has received several airport manager applications and asked if a commissioner would be willing to work with Ellison to set up an interview process.
Commissioner Marc Morandi said he would be glad to help but felt many of the applications were "weak." He felt the city should explore merging the position into the FBO, which presented a stronger application. He said this seemed to be an option within the proposed FBO plan.
He felt the city at least needed to have the conversation with the potential FBO before appointing a new manager.
"It just seems logical if you have a strong proposal in the FBO that would make the most sense to have them take the salary and duties of the airport manager," Morandi said. "I think we should figure that out first...I don't want to go ahead and hire somebody and then have to let them go."
Ellison said she was under the impression, per the Federal Aviation Administration, that the city needed to have the airport manager position filled. Peter Enzien, of Stantec Consulting Services, affirmed this but noted there may be other options the city could explore.
Ellison said the conversations and interviews can happen in conjunction with the FBO negotiations. She said the city could hire an interim manager to meet the FAA requirement.
In other business, Naughton took the time to thank Greenwald for his years of service to the city. Naughton, who himself has decided to step away from the commission, also thanked Commissioner Armand Boillat for his time on the commission. Boillat has decided to leave at the end of the month.
"I want to thank them both for their service and they have provided us with lots of guidance," Naughton said. "They will greatly be missed, and it will be tough to replace them."
Naughton then had to extend this same sentiment to longtime Commissioner Shaun Dougherty, who raised his hand at the tail end of the remote meeting to add that he too was joining the mass exodus from the commission.
This means as of July, only Morandi and Dean Bullet will remain on the commission. The City Council recently approved an ordinance change that will allow up to two members from one of the surrounding communities in an effort to attract more members.
The commission gave Ellison the OK to solicit requests for interest for the former Rougeau Doyle Hangar the city now owns. He said the hangar would be available for sale and the purchaser would lease the land from the city.
The commission voted to place a draft of the Airport Master Plan on the city website for public review. Naughton said the FAA asked that they do this.
Gerrit Blauvelt, who has submitted several Open Meeting Law violations against the commission, said during public comment that he was disappointed the plan wasn't developed in public.
"I am extremely disappointed that this plan was done in private without public participation," he said. "I think it would have done a lot of good if the public was allowed."
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