Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Marshfield Municipal Airport (KGHG) officials answer some of residents' concerns

Residents left a recent Marshfield Airport Commission meeting with more questions than answers even after the airport’s manager attempted to address their concerns.

More than 30 people packed the small terminal building at Marshfield Municipal Airport last Tuesday, Sept. 16, many of them standing after seats ran out, looking for answers to questions they had posed at last month’s meeting about the airport’s $15.3 million runway expansion and improvement project.

Airport Manager Dave Dinneen answered more than half a dozen questions at the meeting, reading from prepared remarks. Those questions included what the overriding public benefit of the project was, why trees were cleared around the airport and if planes were flying in lower.

"The answer is no," Dinneen said of aircraft approaching lower over the Fieldston neighborhood.

He added that the landing threshold for planes approaching over Fieldston was "actually shifted further away, placing aircraft slightly higher over the neighborhood."

Neighbors of the airport in recent months have expressed concerns about jet fuel fumes and noise from airplanes, as well as a fear that the airport’s runway expansion will bring in more jets.

The airport was shifted 190 feet to the southwest and was expanded from 3,000 feet to 3,300 feet for landing. An additional 300 feet of paved area was added to both sides of the runway for safety purposes, allowing 3,600 feet for takeoff and 3,900 for emergency situations.

The runway was also widened by 25 feet and the taxiway widened by 5 feet.

Airport Commission Chairman Bob Reilly attempted to allay some of the residents' fears about jets.

"This commission is never going to proceed with commercial operations at this airport," Reilly said.

Resident John Savini said while residents didn’t expect to see commercial jetliners, such as Jet Blue landing in Marshfield, he did notice that Shoreline Aviation Inc., which operates out of the airport, was advertising a cheap price for jet fuel.

"It makes it a good business model for Shoreline to say it’s a good place to base your private jet," Savini said.

Residents had also asked if the Federal Aviation Administration could conduct a noise or air quality study at the airport.

"The FAA does not typically conduct these assessments for airports of small operations," Dinneen said.

He added with about 40 aircraft based in Marshfield, the FAA "considers Marshfield to be a relatively quiet airport compared to most other airports in the state."

Dinneen noted other airports in Massachusetts, including Plymouth and Norwood, have more than 100 planes based at their airports, but are still below the threshold for those types of studies.

Dinneen wrote down residents’ additional questions throughout the nearly hour-and-a-half long session in order to answer them at future meetings.

Some residents voiced displeasure at having to wait another month to have their concerns addressed.

Residents continued to voice concerns about the noise as well as the early and late hours at which planes were allowed to operate from the airport. Others asked about how many complaints the airport has received and how they're handled, and some called for the commission to revisit the amount of rent being charged for Shoreline Aviation to use the facility.

They also pushed for more clarity about the heights at which planes were approaching the runway from.

Reilly said the airport commission was working on developing a question and answer session in the future to better answer residents’ concerns.

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