To the Editor:
It’s a bitter pill to swallow after 10 years-plus of serious effort to make a wise decision about airport expansion during which time many knowledgeable people tried to warn the public about the hazards of living near an airport. Our own health department finally reported a significant cluster of cancer incidence pre-dominant in certain areas of the city, but they have done nothing to question the airport expansion. Instead, an agreement was made to hide this data from the public under “go along to get along” pressure.
A responsible Rhode Island government, whose purpose is the welfare of all the people, abandoned any attempt to examine or promote issues of good health and well-being in favor of profiteering by an insider few who had rushed out to buy land and where they knew it would be redeemed in the process of expansion. Outrageous!
Meanwhile, the infamous EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) study conducted by RIAC (Rhode Island Airport Corporation), the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and R.I. government input, reported findings in favor of airport expansion absent the environmental input on our air, water and future health. Yet, when the City Council tried to call the FAA and RIAC to accountability for flawed reporting, the council first questioned the report then fled, “cashed in its chips” and knuckled under to strong-arm tactics from vested interests. Shame!
During this brief period, the unions, especially the R.I. Building and Construction Trades Council, paid for a poll of 304 people residing in the city of 84,000 residents. It reported 56 percent wanted the airport expanded and therefore declared “Most favor runway!” Ridiculous!
One wonders why not let the federal government examine the process by which $10 million was spent for an incomplete and inaccurate report? The decision to allow runway expansion in order to accommodate nebulous demand for West Coast flights, as well as huge international jets and increased numbers of heavy, noisy cargo planes to fly over our city, is a forever decision not reversible once implemented. One questions the right of other people to allow toxic pollution, which endangers our lives, to flow over our homes?
A pox on Governor Chafee and Treasurer Gina Raimondo for advocating the building of needless infrastructure as necessary to the future of Rhode Island. At best, the idealized future is not more than wishful thinking – a hard plank to build on. Also, a pox on Mr. Dillon, CEO of RIAC, who says “we have to do it now or wait two more years.” What is that compared to the interest of the people affected? Was it not Mr. Dillon who “pooh-poohed” the finding of the SRC Committee meetings, which recommended “no expansion beyond the fence because of seriously flawed planning, no clear necessity to lengthen the runway and the lack of funding in a poor economy,” or was it a matter of keeping his job?
One asks why are the people of Rhode Island so gullible or indifferent to their right to a better life? Is it the pervasive “done deal” syndrome or “build it and they will come” dialogue, or is it the apathy of tired and worn out taxpayers? Don’t you just love the assertion that no taxpayers’ dollars will be spent on this project when everyone knows federal dollars are taxpayers’ money? The mess we are in over airport expansion is symbolic of the prevailing attitude that we can always ask for bailout money, and as long as Senator Jack Reed can bring it in, we are not responsible to manage our own state in such a manner as to make our contribution to this nation? Shame on all of us if we can’t bring about reform in our state. Meanwhile, here is a good description of what happened to Warwick on the way to the Forum:
The Mayor of Warwick sat on the wall
While the people of Warwick took a great fall
All of the Council, both women and men
Can never put Warwick together again.
A last question or two … Why are we negotiating for moving the playing fields as part of an agreement to expand the airport? RIAC and the FAA have always known that children’s sports were seriously endangered by proximity to airport pollution. If the city had done its job, the field would have been moved long ago to a safer location away from exposure to toxic chemicals.
Also, in the process of an expected final “Memorandum of Agreement” over airport operations, why has there been no mention of the type and class of planes that will service Green Airport? In the beginning, Warwick residents were told that newer and quieter planes would become part of the mix so that noise abatement would be enhanced. Has this issue been added to negotiations?
Gloria L. Duggan
Citizen of Warwick (or what is left of it.)