September 14, 2014
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Airport expansion necessary, logical

To the Editor:

I was in attendance at the public hearing for the airport expansion Thursday evening. I grew up in Greenwood and later purchased property in Lakewood of which I still own today. I played on Winslow Field; I fished Buckeye Brook and was involved in many groups within the City of Warwick. I attended the meeting as a Union Craftsman desperately seeking employment for my sisters and brothers of the crafts; however I also attended as a concerned citizen.
The expansion of TF Green is not only necessary it is also logical. We have a functional airport that serves a purpose, but it is not the world-class hub of economic and cultural development that it could be. Airport expansion gives way to international transport, which coupled with the adjacent rail system, and our deepwater port then can accommodate aircraft carriers and cruise ships, our little state has the potential to be the Alexandria of the modern era. I certainly understand the concerns of the few residents that have an issue with this expansion, and we as the building trades are not only able, but fully willing to address every concern and build everything needed to make this work. We all wish to live in Mayberry, where the streets are slowly traveled and the biggest thing in the sky is a flock of blackbirds but unfortunately for everyone, that world has drifted into the past.
In today’s world, in order to survive as a community, we need to take any and all actions necessary to provide jobs for our people, a reasonable tax rate for our residents and of course most importantly have the foresight to know a sure thing when it is staring us in the face.

Joseph L. Walsh, Jr
Union Organizer IBEW LU 99
Warwick


Comments
7 comments on this item

Governor Chafee's capital budget shows $150+ million in borrowing to complete this project. Debt service coverage would be about $15 million per year. RIAC has zero fat in current budget. If this project moves forward, total debt service would eat up all --- all --- of the current operating revenue leaving the airport totally dependent on FAA grants for survival. I don't think the bond rating agencies will be happy with this.

Richard, Where can I find this in the budget?

The proposed RIAC debt financing is outlined on Page 177 (for years 2012 - 2014) and Page 178 (2015 - 2017) of the FY 2013 State Capital Budget. Download it from http://www.budget.ri.gov/Documents/CurrentFY/FY13%20Capital%20Budget.pdf

Richard, Thanks so much!!!

"I certainly understand the concerns of the few residents that have an issue with this expansion, and we as the building trades are not only able, but fully willing to address every concern and build everything needed to make this work..."

Those are very kind words, Joseph, but I do not believe you fully understand the environmental, safety and quality of life concerns that were brought up during the formal pre-planning stages leading up to this challenged FAA Record of Decision (ROD). If you did, you would know that there are considerably more than "the few residents that have an issue with this expansion". And, if you did, you would certainly not claim that you (the building trades) would "not only be able, but fully willing to address every concern..."

Neither RIAC, nor the State, nor the Federal Government apparently have the funding necessary to address these concerns. That is why they have avoided discussing the valid concerns, coming up with appropriate solutions to the concerns, or identifying funding to fix the problems.

The airport is an economic engine, but it cannot be allowed to run dirty. This airport runs dirty. And the jury is out as to whether conditions can be made safe, given its location in the heart of a densely residential area.

If you really do have the means to fix things, let's let the legal challenge to the FAA EIS ROD happen, so we know where we stand, and what would need to be done. This could still produce jobs. Just keep in mind, the location of your building projects might change, for legitimate reasons.

You get right to the heart of this issue! Again...very well written, Concerned52! Thank-you!!!

So Richard, if I am understanding you and this budget item, we have already entered the subsidy stage regarding the airport because they can't pay their bills, just like the Convention Center, which was suppose to support itself after a couple of years, which has been subsidized to the tune of $20M from day one? Is that what you are telling the public? THAT RIAC is being kept from default with general revenue out of the budget, and we are going to pile on still more bonded debt? So Mr. Dillon and the board of RIAC have perpetrated a BIG LIE in leading the public to believe the RIAC is a stand alone quasi-public agency that is paying its own bills? This stinks as bad as the Resource Recovery Corporation so where are the State Police and their financial crimes unit?

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