Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dillant-Hopkins Airport (KEEN) is our lifeline to attracting business, by John McGauley

Seems a city council member now thinks our airport is unnecessary, a burden to residents near it and a general nuisance.

So, so wrong. 

We should be clutching on to our airport like grim death; it’s one of the only things we have that could save our sad little economy that will soon suffer a near-death experience when one of our big legacy companies brings in the moving trucks overnight and vanishes, leaving behind only a news release and the toll-free number to an outplacement firm.

It’s not Keene’s airport, it’s a regional airport — the only one. Regional, as in a 60-mile radius.

A white pine tree is quickly cut and handled as tree removal in woods on the north side of Dillant-Hopkins Airport (KEEN) in North Swanzey, Cheshire County, New Hampshire.

Residents of the Edgewood neighborhood are upset that trees had to be cut down next to their neighborhood so pilots would have an easier time taking off and landing. But the airfield was there before the neighborhood, so for the past 50 to 60 years, developers, real estate agents and prospective buyers obviously knew it was there. It’s hard to hide.

Without an airport of that size and sophistication there would be few, if any, companies even looking at us. Come on, we’re a small burb two hours from Boston and far off on our own, Dillant Hopkins Airport our only corridor to the outside world. We have no highways, the railroads left so long ago that the only people who remember them live in Langdon Place, and we have no coordinated and aggressive regional economic development campaign. None.

Again, it’s not Keene’s airport, but the region’s only big airport: for Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Putney and Springfield, Vt.; for Peterborough, Hillsborough and Keene in New Hampshire; even for some Massachusetts locales. When will we marshal all those cities into a drive to chip in money to an aggressive campaign to develop that airport?

Watching the airport tree-cutting operation are, from left, forester Jeremy Turner, airport manager Jack Wozmak and Mike Moriarty, airport operations and maintenance manager.

It’s not about using the airport to entice commercial airlines to fly here. They’re not going to do that, we don’t have the million people they need to make it worth their time. And it’s not about the owners of small prop planes that use the airport.

It’s all about two things: corporate aviation and warehouse operations. Corporate. Companies do not locate in places where there is no convenient and fully equipped airport with hangars for corporate jets and warehouses adjacent to airports. Period. We already have two strikes against us — no rail and no highways — so why cut our own throat (mixed metaphor alert) and not play the only face card we have in our hand?

The region’s airport a nuisance? Hardly.

Original article can be found here:

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