November 23, 2014
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With challenge lifted, next step to airport plan is relocation of playing fields

The clock is ticking now that the City Council has dismissed its challenge of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) decision granting a longer runway at Green Airport.

Both the airport and the city are up against deadlines.

RIAC President Kevin Dillon is anxious to get the first two of several projects outlined in the plan started in order to meet the 2015 deadline for runway safety area requirements and ensure financing is in place. Dillon aims to have construction started on safety areas on the shorter of Green’s runway by this time next year. The $77 million project will require relocation of the Post and Airport Road intersection to the north and a permit to extend the safety area to the east, into Buckeye Brook wetlands.

Dillon is reasonably certain of 75 percent FAA funding for the safety areas because that is a high FAA priority.

Runway extension funding is another matter.

He said that anything less than 75 percent funding would require a financial review and a decision on how quickly to move forward. A letter of intent for $64 million of the $88 million project was submitted by the March 1 deadline. He is hopeful of having a response by mid-July.

“It is the next trigger point and whether or not there’s a project and how quickly it will move forward,” Dillon said.

On another front, which some city officials see as the next hurdle, the city is faced with a Sept. 1 deadline on the decision for the relocation of the Winslow Park softball and soccer fields. During negotiations over the agreement, the Knight Campus of the Community College of Rhode Island was identified as the possible site for the fields.

College President Ray Di Pasquale would love to have another one or two fields on campus. He’s made it clear the college doesn’t have any money to put into the project.

But there are two instructional softball, four regulation softball and three soccer fields at Winslow. Where will they all go, and will the $4 million RIAC has earmarked for relocating the fields be enough?

If the city fails to identify field locations by the deadline, under terms of the agreement the fields will go to airport property it bought and cleared of homes in the Lakeshore Drive – Cedar Swamp area. Access to the site would be from an improved road now serving the RIAC garage and maintenance building on the northeast side of the airfield.

Mayor Scott Avedisian said yesterday he met last week with Di Pasquale, Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, City Council President Bruce Place and key CCRI staff.

Vella-Wilkinson reported that the college “is very interested” in locating fields at the campus but before any decisions can be reached, an environmental assessment and engineering designs need to be done. Also, in talking with the soccer and softball leagues, she said it is not imperative that all the fields be located at the same place.

“There will be a follow-up in the near future. Ball field relocation is a top issue to be worked out and the city, CCRI, and RIAC will be meeting soon to get a handle on what the possibilities are,” the mayor said.

Also, under the terms of the agreement, RIAC is to have identified what properties will be eligible for acquisition because they will come under the noise contour of the runway extension. The plan is to then have a schedule, again based on the availability of financing for the extension, for the purchase of those properties.

As for the acquisition of 10 businesses and one residence for the safety areas on the shorter runway, Dillon said appraisals are being done and that he hopes offers finalized by the end of this year. Construction on the west end of that project is targeted to start next spring with the demolition of a hangar that is within the safety area and construction of the relocated Airport Road. Dillon said the safety area on the east end of the runway, which requires a wetlands permit, would be considered as a separate project and probably would not start until 2014.

The playing fields are also near the top of Dillon’s list.

He would like to have construction of the fields started by next spring and ready for use the following year.

As will be done with Airport Road, and again assuming 75 percent FAA financing of the runway extension, a relocated Main Avenue would be built before the existing section of the road at the end of the runway is closed.

Throughout the process of both the extended runway and safety areas, Dillon said RIAC must be sensitive to not interrupting traffic flow, whether it be airport operations or vehicular traffic patterns in the city.

Vella-Wilkinson led the charge to challenge the FAA ruling for the extended runway. The agreement to drop litigation on the condition that RIAC carry through on a series of city requests in many ways reflects a memorandum of understanding reached by the mayor and rejected by the council two years ago.

Although RIAC planned to relocate the playing fields as well as meet other city requests, Vella-Wilkinson said it is important to have it in writing.

“The fact that we were able to create an enforceable agreement is tremendous,” she said. “RIAC is really making a concerted effort to being a good neighbor.”


Comments
7 comments on this item

Vella-Wilkinson says: “RIAC is really making a concerted effort to being a good neighbor.” Then why are they pushing forward with the relocation of the ball fields when they have not identified the source for the funding to do so? They need to identify the $22 million for the glycol plant and at least $18 million for the safety improvments. That is a $40 million locked in requirement that RIAC needs to write a check for. Then they can deal with the $4 million plus for the ball fields.

If they spend the $4 million on the ball fields first and then come up short for the glycol plant and safety improvements, then what happens? RIAC has no assurances at all that they can come up with the $88 million they are claiming is needed for the runway extension. The number is actually much bigger than that by the way. Because the whole project has a $400 plus million price tag on it.

This is another 38 Studios fiasco happening in slow motion.

This process is a joke! All the time spent between the Mayor/City Council/RIAC & with a Sept. 1 deadline for the Winslow Park field relocation decision-when the agreement was signed a preferred site(s) should have been established(it's obvious CCRI can't accomodate ALL the fields needed). Based on this City's track record regarding the Airport, it appears the default Airport property location will be used.

As far as the Airport projects themselves, I agree with Richard Langseth, poor planning regarding financing & logistics for completion of the 2 phases. I was always led to believe the safety improvements would be completed prior to the longer runway expansion(with only 2 runways how can they work on one & still use it;they would be limited to the remaining runway). With a 2015 FAA deadline for the safety improvements, I see RIAC just making it(unless they apply for some type of completion extension). And with RI DOT's track record on road construction projects, I can foresee a completion delay resulting in a delay in RIAC's hoped for runway expansion completion. That wouldn't even consider any financing problems; I can see FAA funding somewhat lower than the entire 75 % assistance meaning RI taxpayers accountable for the shortfall(user fees/RI GA bonding, etc.)

All these meetings & all this time & it looks like these projects are being run by the Three Stooges.

This is somewhat related to T F Green Airport expansion and how things operate between R.I.A.C. and the City of Warwick.

Yesterday, May 15th, I'm out in back yard around 8 or 8:30 in the morning and I noticed the vacant airport properties

in the Main Avenue, Groveland Avenue and Greeley Avenue areas are being cut by R.I.A.C. maintenance division.

OK I said to myself these are the areas which the airport purchased the homes in the late 1980's.

That's makes sense.

Though in the past few years it seemed R.I.A.C. and the City of Warwick Field Maintenance Division must have come to an

agreement regarding splitting this grass cutting project. The airport would cut a certain portion and the city would cut the other portion.

Anyway, R.I.A.C. maintenance division finally completed cutting the grass in these areas.

No sooner later, again I'm out in my yard, I noticed a City of Warwick maintenance vehicle with a trailor attached

containing a driving lawn mower along Groveland Avenue.

The driver of this Warwick city vehicle hops on the lawn mower and starts re-cutting the same areas R.I.A.C. maintenance

division just completed!

What gives???

He was here for about 2 hours MAKING SURE EVERY BLADE OF GRASS WAS RE-CUT that R.I.A.C. maintenance division had missed!

What's wrong with this picture!

It kind of gives you an idea what's wrong and how everything is muttled between R.I.A.C. and the City of Warwick.

Same people same negativity. Why can't you people let up ? I mean really let things happen. Rome wasn't built over-night. This project has the backing by the Federal Government which agrees that for safety reasons this airport expansion is a top priority.

comparing studio 38 which was a complete waste of tax payer money ( a gamble with tax payers money ) to an infrastructure improvement that will bring money to the city and state is quite frankly a un-warranted comment.

Patience. If they build it they will come. Money a side the safety of the citizens of Warwick is the most important issue.

Do you really think the pollution of the airport is any worse than the hundreds of thousands of cars in the city every day ???

The run off from the oils and fluids from the pavement into the streams and rivers and bays is far worse than anything T. F. Green is doing. Not to mention the exhaust from the automobiles.

Thank fully the powers at be don't listen to your propaganda regarding the airport and are finally moving forward with this project.

Thank You and God Bless

Michael2012...please re-read this article. Paragraph #5 states: " Runway extension funding is another matter. "

SAFETY is the FAA'S ONLY concern.

Your point ????

I am not worried where the money comes from. If RI can gamble 75 million to create 200 potential jobs with studio 38 than it certainly can find a way, and the money to get this project done. Whether the FAA comes up with the money, part of the money, or the state does, either way it has to get done.

75 million spend on this project from the state certainly would have been a nice funding start to the project.

People are so hung up on funding. The bottom line is this. This is a great investment for RI and a must investment.

So if my taxes or the twin rivers profit, or what ever has to go to the project so be it. Whether it is state taxes or federal taxes either way the money is from the same pot, the tax payers.

My point is trying to help you focus...you are all over the place...

You should be worried where the money is coming from!

People making the choices with OUR money shouldn't be...

I am tired of paying for someones DREAMS!! Safety FIRST!!!

Read your own statements...you are just like the RI powers that be!

Spend, spend, spend...worry aout paying later, who cares!!!

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