November 27, 2014
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Will there be grant funds for Green?

To the Editor:

When will our congressional delegation release the news about fixing the safety problems at T.F. Green Airport?
Have you ever noticed that when federal grants are handed out, our U.S. senators and reps pass out the "good news?"
I have been waiting, in vain, to hear this news. The FAA posts its lists of Airport Improvement Grant awards on its website. Last year's list was final as of August 27, 2012. No grants were posted after that date. So another year has passed and grants for the upcoming cycle have been awarded.
How much is in the pipeline to address the safety issues at Green?
Nobody is talking.
Why is this important?
The Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) has spent more than $10 million building its case for improvements at Green. The RIAC Board paid its executive director over $300,000 per year to make this happen. He vacated his post one month before the grant announcement date. Now the board has allotted more than $50,000 to find a replacement, to whom it is willing to pay a salary of $275,000 per year plus benefits. If there is no grant money to fix the airport, why is RIAC poised to spend this kind of money to find and remunerate an executive director?
What we need is a RIAC board and an Economic Development Corporation parent entity – directly headed by the governor as Chairman of the Board – that comes clean about the financial situation at T.F. Green. We need to hear this discussion before a new executive director is hired.
I have been complaining about the lack of transparency at the airport for years. Now that its parent corporation, EDC, is in shambles and RIAC itself is without leadership, I don't expect to get answers from state officials. But I do expect our congressional delegation to be honest and tell the voters of Rhode Island what is happening regarding the availability of FAA funds needed to fix the safety problems at T.F. Green Airport.
(Note: These concerns have to do with safety improvements to the crosswinds runway and not the much-debated lengthening of another, already adequate runway.)
This information should be made public and taken into serious consideration before new executive directors at both EDC and RIAC are hired at a cost in salaries and benefits that will probably exceed $500,000 per year.
Candidates for congressional offices would do well to come out of their rabbit holes and call for action on this very important issue facing the businesses and people of Rhode Island. We have been kept in the dark long enough.

Richard Langseth
Warwick


Comments
1 comment on this item

The news is out - RIAC will get $31 million from the FAA for a $110 million project. What does RIAC's president say?

"Planning estimates called for the safety improvements to cost $70 million, but that rose to $110 million under more detailed estimates. The airport considered that too high for the level of safety improvements, Frazier said. The new proposal, delivering nearly the same improvements, is projected to cost $42 million."

So, were they throwing money away? Or was there a big cutback somewhere? This is a $70 million cutback. Certainly Hooters would not cost anywhere near that. And what about the old cigar store and the pants hemming place. There is only one way to make that kind of cut and that is to reduce the runway length so that it will stop 500 feet short of where it ends now on the Airport Road side and several hundred feet short of the Buckeye Brook. Unless they are really talking about closing Runway 16 for bigger planes. That is what I have been proposing for years.

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