Tuesday, May 1, 2018

East Shore, Connecticut: Residents attend workshop on possible Tweed-New Haven Airport (KHVN) expansion

NEW HAVEN — Sam Sigg is willing to be convinced.

A resident of Townsend Avenue in Morris Cove, he said a few more commercial flights a day at Tweed New Haven Airport, less city money going to support it and more businesses interested in locating here are not such bad things.

But the way the city is trying to convince the East Shore neighborhood by offering them certain benefits, he felt was somewhat disingenuous

“I feel a little offended to be told that things that seem like comon sense, traffic control measures, are being called benefits. No one wants traffic jams in their neighborhood. If there is an expansion and there are 600 more cars a day, New Haven would look stupid if it didn’t plan ahead. ... It is not like our neighborhood is getting something another neighborhood is not. The airport is not there,” Sigg said.

Sigg was one of about 50 people who came to the workshop for East Shore residents Monday at the Benjamin Jepson School, where city officials manned tables to answer people’s questions. Another workshop is set for Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Nathan Hale School.

Regardless of the pitch by the city, Sigg said he was willing to be convined that three to four more commercial flights a day would really benefit New Haven, adding some 600 cars to the traffic.

According to state Department of Transportation figures, 9,000 cars already travel on Townsend Avenue daily with some 900 at peak commuting times. City Engineer Giovanni Zinn said several hundred more tied to various flight times would not have a large impact.

Sigg said the whole issue of allowing the airport to pave the 1,000-foot safety zone to extend the useable runway length to 6,600 feet shouldn’t have been slipped into a bill the city now is scrambling to line up adjacent neighborhood support for, although it continues to have business support and the backing of other communities.

The runway issue is in a bill that would set up a community solar system at the airport under a two-year pilot. The other benefits include parking along Burr Street; a round-about at Burr and Dodge Avenue to slow traffic there; completion of the $7 million sound dampening program for the 185 nearby homes; and creation of an airport jobs zone.

State Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, whose constituents in New Haven and East Haven favor the expansion, has previously said state lawmakers will have to be convinced the city reached out to constituents and that they want the expansion.

The Board of Alders next Monday is slated to take up a non-binding resolution in favor of improvements at Tweed to attract more air service, while the state legislature has until May 9 to act on the bill. About a dozen alders dropped into the workshop at various times. There were no state representatives.

Frank Douglass, D-2, chairman of the Alders Community Development Committee, said the wording of the resolution is still under review and he has asked his colleagues to get their questions to him by tonight.

Douglass said his question is whether any airline has made a commitment to come to New Haven if the runway is expanded. He described the airport as a regional issue and said New Haven would be a great hub between Boston and New York.

Alder Sal DeCola, D-18, whose ward includes the airport, said he will vote against the resolution.

About nine residents walked out of the workshop, led by Sean O’Brien, who said participating in it would look as though they were endorsing extension of the runway.

The bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee and the state Planning and Development Committee

“We don’t want to implicitly look like we’re putting a rubber stamp on this process which is already in the state House,” said O’Brien , who favored a process in which people could get up and ask questions before the whole audience.

Officials explained later that people often don’t want to get up and talk in front of a crowd, so they thought setting up a process whereby individuals could approach city officials in small groups or one-on-one would increase participation.

Years ago, the previous administration signed a memorandum of understanding, codifed in state law, to extend the safety area, but not to pave it. The latest bill seeks to allow paving. The city lost a suit seeking to overturn the existing law.

“They made a promise to the neighborhood. ... Breaking trust with the people, you never get that trust back,” Patricia Kane said.

As for the community benefits, O’Brien said they either were promised in the past or things the airport needs, such as the roundabout. “Presenting it as a community benefit is absurd,” he said.

Barbara Scanley of Lighthouse Road said she has lived in many places around the city and across the country.

“I love my neighborhood. It is almost like family. This is the best place I have ever lived. You can’t replace it,” Scanley said of potential changes that could come with increasing use of the airport.

There was interest from residents directly abuttingTweed for information on retrofitting their homes to dampen the noise.

A number of residents in the area of Alden and Dean streets, including Lynda Meinsen, were told they did not qualify for noise abatement even though their homes directly abut a runway.

City officials promised to look into the reasoning for this by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors.

While the commercial flights were loud, the residents conceded that the private jets at Tweed and Robinson Aviation were a bigger problem.

Others complained that planes will idle on the runway adjacent to their homes until they call the control tower to complain.

Lisa Ventura-McHugh, who lives on Burr Street, directly across from the airport, said she hasn’t been able to open her kitchen and living room windows in a decade because of the smell of jet fuel and the noise. She is on a list for noise abatement work in 2019.

“I grew up in the Cove. It was never like this,” Ventura-McHugh said.

There also were complaints about the notice for the meeting. It was put on Facebook by some community management teams, but not others. Residents on the East Shore who get emergency alerts were told of the workshops by text, but that didn’t reach everyone, either.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.greenwichtime.com

No comments: