Monday, January 18, 2021

Outreach meetings to explain proposed Turners Falls (0B5) expansion

MONTAGUE, Massachusetts  — Two community outreach meetings this week aim to provide information and address questions about a potential expansion of the Turners Falls Municipal Airport in advance of a February Special Town Meeting, where residents will be asked to support the necessary funding.

The virtual meetings are planned for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. They can be accessed through the meeting calendar at
Eyeing a purchase of a neighboring 10 acres that Airport Manager Bryan Camden has said would ensure the airport’s financial future, the Turners Falls Municipal Airport plans to request a short-term loan from the town of Montague of about $45,000 to support the purchase. The full purchase price is expected to be about $1.5 million, but would be mostly covered by grants for public airports.

Town Meeting approval is required for the loan. A Special Town Meeting, to be held virtually, is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25.

While the airport issue is expected to generate discussion, that might be difficult to accommodate during a virtual Town Meeting, Camden said. The informational sessions are intended to address some questions ahead of time. Each will start with a presentation lasting about 20 minutes, and then will have 30 to 40 minutes for discussion and questions.

“We really want to make sure the information is addressed properly and any questions are answered,” Camden said. “This is not a land grab for the airport. This is essentially going to fund the future of the airport.”
One key issue will probably be the rationale for acquiring the land, rather than allowing some private business to buy it, Camden said.

In past meetings, Camden and the Montague Selectboard have discussed how owning the land — which is currently owned by Pioneer Aviation, and includes a flight school, maintenance facility and a fueling station — would not only guarantee that those facilities remain available to customers, but would also turn them into sources of revenue for the airport.

Another issue will probably be whether the restructuring of the airport and the town’s loan will impact town finances or taxpayers, Camden believes. He said the airport should be able to repay the money borrowed from the town by the fall of 2021.

“The expectation that this is going to cost the taxpayer something will need to be discussed,” Camden said, “just to clarify that it won’t.”

No comments:

Post a Comment