They sat at opposite sides of council chambers Thursday evening.
Frank Frenze had been there many times. For David Manning it was a new experience.
The two have a common bond – Green Airport – although they wouldn’t likely see it that way.
Frenze is looking for answers. Manning wants to find work.
Frenze wants to know whether his home on Gertrude Avenue will be taken by airport expansion. Twelve years ago he was told his property came under the voluntary acquisition program. Then nothing happened.
“Their answer to me was that ‘things change,’” he said.
Manning, like more than 100 other union members, came to the meeting of the council’s litigation sub-committee to show support for a resolution that would enable the Rhode Island Airport Corporation to move ahead with several airport construction projects including a runway extension and runway safety areas.
An electrician and West Warwick resident, Manning has been out of work since last April. He understands there’s no knowing if airport construction projects would mean work for him.
“Even if it’s not work for me it’s better for the state,” he said.
Frenze and his family have lived with the airport for 25 to 30 years. He doesn’t remember exactly how long it has been. Conditions improved after RIAC soundproofed the home. Conversations were not interrupted by passing jets and the central air system enables them to keep the windows closed during the summer.
“The noise doesn’t bother me.”
But, he says, the home’s proximity to the airport is obvious. He said the rain gutters are black from jet exhaust and he is concerned for the health of his seven grandchildren who often play at nearby Winslow Park when they visit.
Frenze says he has called RIAC, but he never gets answers.
“I would like someone to come over and talk to me. It’s frustrating that no one ever approaches,” he said. Frenze didn’t expect to get answers Thursday night. And, as he has done at other meetings, he sat silently during proceedings.
Manning did the same. He was not one of those who spoke, nor was he a member of the group that cheered and applauded when committee member Steve Merolla urged the public session to come to a close so that talks with RIAC might start.
Manning heard the appeals of his fellow union members that the council drop its appeal so as not to delay the project and then those of the residents that they not forget their concerns.
He understands it’s complicated.
“I wouldn’t want to go to work at someone else’s expense,” he said.