After years of lengthy hearings over whether Green Airport should have an extended runway, which left homeowners and businesses to wonder whether they would be impacted, the work of designing airport projects has begun.
And with decisions made, RIAC knows, or has a good idea, who is going to be affected and when.
This week, interim RIAC CEO Peter Frazier disclosed that the agency would conduct a series of meetings to answer the questions of those property owners who will come within the runway protection zone and be eligible for the voluntary acquisition and home noise insulation programs. Meetings will also be held with the 16 property owners whose property will be taken for a realignment of Main Avenue and with the future neighbors of the relocated Winslow Park playing fields. Lake Shore neighbors have already attended one meeting about the fields, and another will be held soon as a follow-up to suggestions made at that meeting.
These meetings, an outgrowth of the memorandum of agreement whereby the City Council dropped an appeal of the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of the longer runway, promise to be remarkably different than those that preceded them. As a part of the settlement with the city, RIAC agreed to keep residents informed of how and when they would be impacted by the runway extension project. Also, it is the understanding that those to be affected will be eligible for programs before or at the time they were impacted.
City fathers did not want hallow promises but guarantees.
Now RIAC is preparing to deliver, though it will be some time – in some cases years – before homes are bought or sound insulated. But what’s important is that there will be a timetable and people can plan their lives without wondering when and if they’ll ever be able to move or experience a reduced level of aircraft noise.
At the meetings beginning later this month, property owners will learn specifically how they will be affected. They will have the opportunity to ask questions and they will learn details of each of the programs.
What is different about these meetings is that they are by invitation. RIAC will send letters to property owners. This doesn’t mean they are closed meetings – they are public and anyone can attend. But unlike the hearings of the past that were highly advertised and drew people with questions on a variety of topics, these meetings will be focused on a specific topic and those people impacted.
This may be a disappointment to those looking to sound off about the airport or hoping to gain information related to other airport topics, but it gets down to the brass tacks of how our neighborhoods will be impacted by an expanding airport, and that’s what we need to hear.