November 24, 2014
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Council airport list is step toward agreement
TIGHT QUARTERS: With Rhode Island Airport Corporation CEO Kevin Dillon peering in from the doorway, State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, flanked by Bill Holmes, business manager of Carpenters Local 94, at left, and Brook DeSaint listen to committee testimony yesterday.

Kevin Dillon left yesterday’s meeting – with the committee overseeing the council’s appeal of the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of a longer Green Airport runway – with a list.

That’s a big step toward negotiating an agreement that would give the Rhode Island Airport Corporation the green light to airport projects.

Dillon, RIAC CEO, could not talk about the list because he and committee members are sworn to secrecy.

“I respect the agreement we have that we don’t talk about this,” he said. Dillon could not say when the parties would meet again, but he expects it to be as soon as next week.

Yesterday was the third meeting since the council voted in November to hire aviation attorney Steve Taber to petition for a review of the FAA’s record of decision.

Since then, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and the trades unions have stepped up their campaign for council endorsement of the projects they say will create much-needed jobs.

And the pressure on council members has been building.

Over the past several days, Gov. Lincoln Chafee personally called council members, asking them to drop the lawsuit so construction can start. Yesterday, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo joined the ranks favoring the project.

She was at the City Hall Annex for the 15-minute public comment portion of the meeting that actually extended beyond a half hour.

Raimondo asked council members to look at the short and long term impacts of their action…“the big picture.” She said the longer runway and other improvements would enhance the state’s transportation infrastructure, create jobs and “increase total economic growth.” She called that significant, adding that the growth and development have a positive impact on the bond rating and business environment.

“I’m here to say, let’s get it done,” she said.

In response, committee member and Council President Bruce Place said, “I agree with every single word you just said.”

To Dillon’s confessed amazement at the conclusion of the public session, Place went on to say, “I think we’re on the same page.”

Place said the council is seeking assurance on “some of the small items.” He pulled out an email from Greeley Avenue resident Lena Elliott who Place said has lived in her house for more than 40 years and now faces uncertainty.

He said the council has a “commitment” to Elliott and Warwick residents to ensure their questions are answered and their interests are represented.

Place said, in his opinion, RIAC and the council are “very close” on environmental issues involving water quality.

And, to demonstrate his endorsement of airport improvements and the Interlink, which collectively he estimated to be a $500 million investment, Place said, “This is the biggest piece of economic development the state has ever seen.”

As in prior public sessions, union representatives painted a bleak picture of the economy and the need to get the project moving to create jobs in the upcoming construction season.

But even if the council drops the appeal now, Dillon said RIAC would have difficulty pulling the pieces together in time to start this year. He said RIAC faces a March 1 deadline to apply for federal funding. In order to do that, he said he needs an understanding of the full extent of those projects that might include requests by the council. In addition, he observed, bond-rating agencies would be reluctant to proceed with financing if the threat of litigation lingers.

Richard Langseth, who has regularly appeared before the committee, claimed RIAC is facing a financial crisis that is being hidden, since financial documents aren’t being released as he has requested.

He said, “The only way RIAC delivers on its promises is if they have the funds to do so.” And he cautioned if the authority has to dip into its reserves it would adversely impact its bond ratings.

Before the executive session with the committee, Dillon called Langseth’s statement “patently false.” Later yesterday afternoon, he said that the finance and audit committees wouldn’t release its report until March and at that time they would be made available to Langseth.

Directing his comments to labor leaders, Michael Zarum, who is also a regular at the committee meetings, said there are “a lot of myths” over the need for an 8,700-foot runway. He said an 8,300-foot runway would fit the purpose and need and, in the process, cause far less disruption to the community.

“It seems to imply,” he said of those that have questioned the decision to appeal, “because it’s [the airport] a state issue, local concerns don’t apply.”

Zarum said there is a process to protect the public and he accused Chafee of interfering with it. A third resident and frequent attendee, Janice Pangman, said the matter is about the public safety and health and “take care of that first.”

Among issues council members have identified are the relocation of the Winslow Park playing fields, a timetable and funding for the acquisition of homes and businesses impacted by the airport projects, air quality monitoring and taxes lost with the loss of homes and businesses.


Comments
9 comments on this item

This bit of information I find this interesting. I live at the south end of the main runway adjacent to Winslow Park softball fields. On Monday, January 30, 2012 around 1:30 PM I'm in my back yard with an excellent view of aircraft both departing and arriving on the main runway from the south.

I see this large (and noisy) military aircraft appearing to be making a landing and all of a sudden it ascends into the air and does a large 360 degree around the entire airport and attempts to land again and does the same thing, it ascends into the air and does a 360 degree around the entire airport

and repeats this procedure over and over.

Mind you, know commercial airlines are arriving and departing during this period for a little over an hour.

I contacted RIAC by email and a reliable source rsponded with this:

"They were performing practice approaches. The reason why they chose PVD is because PVD has airfield Instrument

Landing System components that we do not have a Quonset. They are practicing Category 3 approaches, which is

designed for operating in extremely low visibility conditions. Quonset is not capable of providing that level of

training."

What gives???

Anyway, regarding runway expansion at T F Green, we simply don't need it AND IT WILL NOT IMPROVE the overall economy in Rhode Island.

Airlines simply are not going to schedule non-stop flights to the west coast (I.E. Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego) because it it simply too expensive.

On another note, regarding the Winslow Park playing fields both softball and soccer, it is my understanding according to the FEIS the FFA has recommended and area off of Cedar Swamp Drive for the the new location.

This means nothing will happen between now and until the end of October 2012 if not later, for the fields to be re-located. I know for a fact the softball fields are used from approximately the third week in March until the third week in October by C.C.R.I., Toll Gate H.S. and of course the Apponaug Girls Softball League. Mind you, these fields at the new location must be ready and playable before the beginning of a new Softball and Soccer season. That should be interesting.

"Air quality monitoring"?...

I certainly hope this committee is also addressing mitigation measures concerning the statistically significant cancer cluster abutting the airport that includes 7 contiguous census tracts based on the 2000 Census.

The fact that no follow-up study has apparently been done since the 2010 Census data became available is a grave public concern. Air quality monitoring does not mitigate cancer clusters.

How can anyone be allowed to consider expanding an airport located in the heart of a densely residential land use area, with a statistically significant cancer cluster surrounding it, without first applying due consideration and due care to addressing the existing problem?

It appears the State has done its best to sweep this grave situation (and other valid public concerns, like a failure to conduct a thorough cost/benefit analysis during the pre-planning stage) under the rug as it continues to aggressively promote this project. During the federal airport planning process, the State, through its agent, the RI Airport Corporation, actually condoned ceasing to address valid citizen concerns within the pre-planning phase. They officially elected to cease pre-planning and moved into the FAA EIS process in spite of the protests and appeals made by the Warwick mayor, the City Council, and the entire group of Citizen Stakeholder representatives serving on the Study Resource Committee (SRC).

Now, in response to the FAA Record of Decision (ROD), which represents the product of this contested EIS process, the City Council has chosen to follow FAA's own guidelines, which allow for a legal challenge of the ROD in federal court. For the first time, federal authorities on the highest level, will thoroughly review our situation, and decide if the process addressed all of the concerns it should have according to federal expectations. If the airport planning process stands up to expert scrutiny, there should be nothing to worry about. If there are problems with the ROD, they will have to be addressed.

Although publicly requested, there never was a thorough Loss / Benefit study done during the pre-planning phase of this federal airport planning process. That not something to be dismissed by a City Council, or a subsidiary public corporation (RIAC) of another subsidiary corporation (EDC) of the State of Rhode Island, a governor, or a state treasurer. A review of this federal airport planning process is the sole domain of the Federal Courts. It is done by a legal challenge of the FAA Record of Decision. That is what is before us. It became a federal issue when adherence to federal regulations came into question during the federal airport planning process. It could have been avoided. Those in charge of the pre-planning process made the decisions to try to avoid applying due consideration and due care to the valid, expressed considerations and concerns of an entire stakeholder group. It is only logical to question the results of a study that appears based on incomplete or manipulated data. Let the federal authorities do their job.

So what the military was doing practice maneuvers, who cares?

I hope the airport expands to the fullest it can. Longest runway.

So many people now are on board. The Mayor, The Governor, The General Treasurer, The FAA, the workers union, the business organization, etc.. to name a few...

A couple of NIMBY's are not going to stop this project.

Cape Wind has won against their NIMBY's. It takes a while but eventually it happens for the better good of the majority.

I plead to the Warwick City Council to drop their suit and allow progress to take place. RIAC has acted in good faith.

Watch Warwick once again become a vibrant economic engine once the expansion takes place. The long runway is the best choice. Do it once, and do it right.

Let's put Warwick and Rhode Island on the map !! People from all over New England will use TF Green Airport !! The money will be flowing in !

Hey Michael2012 it takes over two hours to drive from Simsbury, Connecticut to Warwick and only 45 minutes or so to switch planes out of Bradley Field landing in Detroit and then the West Coast. Do you really think people from the Hartford would drive to Warwick to burn a couple of hours in their cars and get a nonstop to the West Coast. By the way, Bradley's runway has been 9,500 feet since the Korean War days and that airport has never successfully offered non-stop service to the West Coast even though its marketing area is bigger and more affluent than ours.

To nitcharoo who wrote about - On Monday, January 30, 2012 I see this large (and noisy) military aircraft appearing to be making a landing and all of a sudden it ascends into the air and does a large 360 degree around the entire airport and attempts to land again and does the same thing, it ascends into the air and does a 360 degree around the entire airport

FYI - Earlier in the month there was a military tanker, KC-10, I believe out of McGuire AFB in New Jersey

I was told it was at TF Green practicing approaches while on a training mission. You may have seen the same aircraft.

My understanding is that KC-10 out of McGuire frequently flies refueling missions in the Atlantic region and the aircraft is also used as a trainer.

The day I saw the aircraft, runway 23 was the active runway. The aircraft made several approaches from the Northeast to the Southwest, making a few touch-and-goes for practice and a low approach / flyover, each time circling the airport in a standard left hand race track pattern. A lot of people saw the aircraft.

Very unusual for here. While I have a lot of faith in the safety track records of larger aircraft, I admit I was a bit uneasy seeing a fuel tanker flying low to practice approaches over our densely populated neighborhoods, especially a KC-10 series aircraft with their known lack of redundant hydraulic lines to control surfaces. When I saw the aircraft, it was low on approach, very close to stall speed as evidenced by the angle of attack and I don't believe its a good idea for those types of practice missions to take place over a densely populated neighborhood with a tanker.

I was also told the aircraft made a few low approaches over Quonset. I'm wonder who you got your info from at RIAC, Please post contact if you can.

You can Google [ KC-10 ] or [ KC-10 McGuire AFB ] for more info.

I agree with you that there is no need for an 8,700' runway. The mayor's proposal for the FAA to go with an 8,300' would save money and reduce the noise impact and still allow aircraft in the current fleet to fly non-stops to the west coast if that need developed 15 years from now.

Hey Michael2012 - Just because the politicians you mention on are board doesn't mean its a good idea. It only shows how many ignorant politicians we have that can't do simple math, and why the state is in the situation its in.

I remind you that both Manchester NH and Bradley Field in CT tried non-stops to the west coast and at both airports those flights were discontinued due to lack of sufficient passenger demand and the flights losing money.

Read the EIS and you'll read that extending the main runway is not the FAA's main priority.

What I noticed in a lot of the blogs is of the people who travel the most from TF Green, those ho understand the math are not in favor of a longer runway as they mention they know they can fly to anywhere easily from the current airport layout, and they don't want their ticket prices increased.

We need to keep the airport low cost if we want to attract new airlines and keep passenger fares low.

To anonsnoinipo:

You said " I'm wonder who you got your info from at RIAC, Please post contact if you can.".

Patti Goldstein

Vice President of Public Affairs & Air Service Marketing

Rhode Island Airport Corporation

T. F. Green Airport (PVD)

2000 Post Road

Warwick, RI 02886

Very nice person. Will be more than happy to help you...

Here's the truth on this - RIAC cannot gets it ducks in order on time to apply for a Letter or Intent (LOI) on funding from the FAA, and rather admit that, he's seeking a scape goat and intends that scape goat to be the city's committee.

Why is RIAC hiding it's financial reports? With the computer system they have, it does not take three months to generate a report, it takes clicking a button and walking over to the printer to view the financial reports.

It also does not take three months to audit a report. Its takes a few days to a week. Especially now that RIAC's computer system itself has built in checks to comply with the GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principals

It appears the airport is intentionally withholding a lot of key information that should be readily available. It's time for a fully blown investigation of their charter and the way they were organized to be able to hide in secret meetings to funnel money to political friends and operate independently without sufficient checks and oversight by the public and oversight by the general assembly

If RIAC gets its way, we can all expect higher ticket prices at TF Green, I mean TF Greed.

Southwest and Jetblue raised their fares, other airlines followed. Because of fuel prices. Here we go!!

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