By JOHN HOWELL No matter how you look at it, the airport is saddled with the rap of having taken hundreds of thousands of dollars off the city tax rolls for expansion with the acquisition of homes and businesses over the years. So when the tables turn,
No matter how you look at it, the airport is saddled with the rap of having taken hundreds of thousands of dollars off the city tax rolls for expansion with the acquisition of homes and businesses over the years.
So when the tables turn, it’s understandable why the City Council eagerly approved renewal of a lease with the Federal Aviation Administration that boosted payment from $144,000 to $387,910 over 20 years, an increase of 170 percent.
City Council President Stephen McAllister and other council members lauded Principal Planner Dan Geagan for going a step further than renewing the original lease for 400 square feet of land behind the fire station on Post Road next to the former Aldrich Junior High School. The property is the site of a tower for a low level wind shear alert system, or LLWAS. The lease also includes easements for ingress and egress to the site. No new construction is proposed for the site.
Under the agreement, the FAA will pay $18,000 a year for five years; $18,900 for years six to 10; $19,845 for years 11 to 15; and $20,837 from then though year 20.
As described to the council, an LLWAS is a ground-based weather station that is used to detect sudden changes in wind velocity and direction in both the vertical and horizontal planes. This low-level turbulence can present a significant risk to flight safety and therefore creates the need for the LLWAS system, which functions by transmitting alerts to air traffic controllers, who then alert pilots to changing conditions so that they can respond appropriately when landing or departing. Systems are also located at St. Timothy Church and 2286 Post Road in Greenwood.
Apart from the increase in lease payments, the Planning Department listed the following benefits to the city: “Long-term, predictable revenue; Continuance of an essential public safety system that supports flight and passenger safety at T.F. Green International Airport; Continued ownership and control of property that includes a City public safety facility and mutual and positive cooperation between the City and the FAA.”
McAllister observed that this is not a new tower that could have raised issues with the neighborhood. Rather, the process was an extension of an existing agreement.
But McAllister said Geagan and the Planning Department “gave push back” by not accepting a minor increase in the payment.
“That’s a credit to them,” he said of the department.
“We’re hosting the airport at a cost and a loss of housing,” he said.
What does the mayor think of the lease and the added revenue?
“They’re sharp over there [at the Planning Department]. Nothing gets by them,” Frank Picozzi said.