To the Editor:
The T.F. Green Airport expansion may create jobs over the short-term, but what will the long-term effects be to the city of Warwick, and most of all the environment? The Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) has made it clear over the years to expand now and worry about the environment later. A modern trans-Atlantic airport does not belong in a residential neighborhood. It is time to build a new airport in the Ocean State with the clear zone over water for both safety and environmental reasons. Anything else is just plain stupid!
On Dec. 6, 2011, the Warwick Beacon stated, per the Warwick City Council, the city loses $11 million annually due to lost property taxes from the airport. As a resident of Warwick, my homeowner’s taxes were reduced twice due to the standard airport devaluation and the uncertainty of the neighborhood. If the airport runway is expanded (once again), what is the projected annual loss in real estate taxes to the city of Warwick?
On Nov. 29, 2006, the Journal Bulletin printed an article called “Group Names Airport Top-12 Polluter.” Toxic Action Center prints a yearly report of the top 12 corporate polluters in all of New England called the “Dirty Dozen.” T.F. Green Airport was the first airport in 10 years to be selected for the Dirty Dozen Award due to non-compliance with the Federal Clean Air Act. The group also expressed concern of the plan to extend the runway, which “means more pollutants and more devastating environmental impacts.”
The current planes taking off from Green carry up to 10,000 gallons of fuel. RIAC wants to bring in planes that carry up to 30,000 gallons of fuel. It has already been proven that there are higher cancer rates for residents living near T.F. Green Airport. RIAC has also been fined for illegal asbestos abatement. The airport has a history being fined for air pollution by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the pollution effects to Buckeye Brook is already being felt. These trans-Atlantic planes are huge and do not belong in a residential neighborhood. RIAC refuses to talk about the pollution increase and its effect on the environment and the city of Warwick.
In a Feb. 15, 2009 Journal Bulletin article, “Cities Depend on Small Planes,” talks about small turboprop planes that have “become a vital part of the country’s airline industry…” Why not build a larger airport with a clear zone over the ocean to service trans-Atlantic flights and service a smaller T.F. Green Airport in Warwick? These turboprop planes have 50 to 70 seats and are much more fuel-efficient and cause far less pollution. It is time to make T.F. Green a model for “green” airports instead of a “brown” airport.
As a resident of Warwick for 40-plus years, I have experienced firsthand the air and noise pollution from T.F. Green Airport. Every morning, I wake up at 6 a.m. to a vibrating house from the planes overhead. You can’t be out in my yard without the air choking you. It burns your eyes and nose. My home has been sound proofed, but it is impossible to keep the fumes out of the house. RIAC has installed a blower in all the HVAC systems that blows the air into the house. When the city tax appraisers came to my home, I asked them, “…My roof leaks in three places, should I put on a new roof or smear tar all over it? Should I remodel my 1950s kitchen or is the airport going to take my house? Should I screen in my deck or are the fumes going to drive me away? Should I use my construction skills to fix the house and leave it to my family? Will it be worth my time and money?” The appraisers talked it over and my taxes were lowered a second time for the future uncertainty of the neighborhood. Is this the last of the expansion? (Otherwise the uncertainty remains.) How much more devaluation can the city of Warwick take?
It is time RIAC and Governor Lincoln Chafee looked at other locations for an international airport in Rhode Island. In my opinion, we should look at locations such as the old Charleston Naval Base, where the runway can be built over the ocean. It is time for Lincoln Chafee to call on the commander and chief, President Obama, to get economic stimulus money for the state of Rhode Island to build a new airport instead of expanding T.F. Green Airport once again. An international airport does not belong in a residential neighborhood such as Warwick.
Leonard C. Hansen