What’s in the MOU?
The following is a digest of the key issues addressed in the memorandum of understanding approved by the City Council and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) last week. The parties have agreed “to act diligently and expeditiously and in good faith to complete the settlement agreement” as outlined in the memorandum. The final step will be for the city to dismiss its challenge of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) record of decision approving the extended runway and other airport projects.
Subject to RIAC commencing the construction of the runway extension of Runway 5/23 to the south:
Land acquisition program
Those properties requiring mandatory acquisition:
-Upon approval of the financing plan for the runway extension, and in any case no later than Sept. 30, 2012, RIAC will provide the city and those property owners “a date certain” to acquire the properties. That date will not be later than the commencement of construction on the longer runway. Projected cost is $2.6 million.
For properties in the runway protection zone
-Property owners in these zones, which are at the ends of each runway, will have the option of being acquired. As in the case with mandatory land acquisitions, the plan is subject to financing and property owners will be notified no later than Sept. 30, 2012 of the acquisition offer schedule. Projected cost is $17.9 million.
Properties within the projected 70 DNL (high noise) contour
- RIAC agrees to offer to acquire these properties regardless of when the noise impacts are experienced in two phases. The first, according to an exhibit agreed upon by the parties, sets a deadline of no later than the end of 2015; the second is to be completed by 2020. Projected cost is $23.9 million.
Property owners projected as coming within the 65+ DNL noise contour will be eligible for residential sound insulation. The forecasted impact years have been broken into three groupings: 2015, 2020, and 2025 and will be offered sound insulation when impacted by noise higher than 65 DNL. Projected cost is $19.5 million.
Main Avenue relocation
The design of the relocation of Main Avenue will comply with state Department of Transportation standards that may require RIAC to acquire additional property. Within 60 days of approval of the right-of-way, RIAC will notify property owners whether they are impacted and provide a date by which it will offer to acquire the properties. RIAC will offer to buy the full property lot even if the realigned road were to only take a small section of land.
Airport Road waterline
With the realignment of the Post and Airport Road intersection to accommodate the runway safety areas for the shorter runway, RIAC will replace that portion of the city’s water main that would otherwise come under the safety area.
Re-use of Main Avenue property
Where appropriate, RIAC will work with the city to see that residential land acquired along Main Avenue be used for commercial use in an effort to generate city tax revenue.
Winslow Park Ball Fields
RIAC will terminate its lease for the Winslow complex and reconstruct four regulation and two instructional softball fields and one standard soccer field and two smaller soccer fields at the Knight Campus of CCRI as indicated in a letter of intent signed by CCRI President Ray Di Pasquale. This will include the design and construction of a new club house with concession area and restrooms and parking equivalent at least to the current level of parking.
If it is determined that the fields cannot be relocated to the college, the city has 120 days to identify a new location, but no later than Sept. 1 of this year. If that site is other than RIAC-owned property in the Lakeshore Drive neighborhood, then it is the city’s obligation to pay for the engineering design.
Funding for fields
RIAC will establish a baseline of how much it can pay for the field relocation by formulating the costs to relocate the fields to the Lakeshore site, including the signalization and turning lanes on Airport Road. RIAC has offered to pay an additional 15 percent of such cost if the fields are relocated to the CCRI or alternative site. The preliminary projected cost (including the 15 percent) is $4 million. Should CCRI not be selected for the fields, the city would allow RIAC to relocate the fields to the Lakeshore site. Winslow fields would be used until the new fields are fully operational.
Head stones that exceed the height restrictions of the object free zone will be laid flat with an appropriate transparent protective covering. Subject to the Main Avenue relocation determination, RIAC further agrees to fund an investigation of unmarked graves and follow protocols as to how they should be identified
Air quality testing
RIAC agrees to continue air quality testing for an additional two years after the current statute for testing expires in 2015. Projected cost is $260,000 per year.
The city will designate an individual or group as a water quality liaison that will be able to accompany RIAC and its agents when taking water samples in compliance with its discharge permits. RIAC will provide the city with water quality testing results and $5,000 annually for seven years to the URI Watershed Watch to train and equip Warwick volunteers to perform water quality monitoring on city waterways and the Greenwich Bay watershed. Further, the city supports “and RIAC shall construct” a $25 million glycol collection and treatment facility by Dec. 15, 2015 as outlined in its permit with DEM.
RIAC will install “welcome to Warwick, Rhode Island” signs in the terminal and in the parking garage and the train platform. In addition, RIAC agrees to promote Warwick as its host community in literature on its website and in marking and to erect a community bulletin board, at the city’s choice of location, for communication purposes.
The memorandum also provides a mechanism should a dispute arise over the agreement. This starts with a written notice of the dispute and assuming a resolution hasn’t been reached after 30 days that the dispute be subject to mediation followed by arbitration.