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Hanscom, FedEx mull increased flights

Boston Sunday Globe

NorthWest section June 22, 2003

 

By Davis Bushnell, Globe Correspondent

Plans by Federal Express Corp. to have 10 cargo flights a week in and out of Hanscom Field, which could be approved as early as this fall, will be on the docket of the July 15 meeting of the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission.

Although the Massachusetts Port Authority, the airfield's owner-operator, says FedEx officials will be invited to that meeting, a FedEx spokeswoman is hedging for now on whether a company representative will attend.

"We are considering having a representative at the July 15 meeting," said Pam Roberson. "This is so early in the discussion stage that we don't know what will happen."

Massport's announcement last Tuesday that its chief executive, Craig P. Coy, had met with FedEx officials the previous day about Hanscom cargo flights has caused an uproar among area selectmen and leaders of activist groups.

Few were surprised to learn, however, that the giant, Memphis-based cargo carrier wants to do business at Hanscom, operating one round trip before 11 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In mid-April, Massport spokesman Richard Walsh told advisory commission members that Barbara Patzner, Hanscom's airport director, had fielded an unsolicited phone call from FedEx concerning landing fees and other charges. Later, Jose Juves, another spokesman for the authority, said FedEx "has been calling us off and on since 1993."

However, Massport officials implied that no expansion of flights was imminent.

Sara Mattes, a Lincoln selectwoman and incoming chairwoman of the Hanscom Area Towns Committee, said in a telephone interview Wednesday: "In spite of Massport denials [of FedEx intentions], we were suspicious of what was coming down the pike."

So, since early spring, concerns have been building, Mattes and others said, about FedEx landing here, adding to noise generated by corporate jets and traffic on nearby roadways.

In its 2005-2015 environmental impact report on Hanscom Field, Massport forecasts that there could be 520 cargo operations in 2005 and 1,560 operations in 2015.

But FedEx plans will be only plans until Massport directors vote on them, probably "in the early fall," Walsh said last week.

"There's no ideal starting date [at Hansom] for us," Roberson said last week. "We want to go through the processing stages," such as getting FAA certifications for the airfield and deciding how the freight would be distributed. The company now has 10 distribution centers in Greater Boston, including those in Burlington and Wilmington, she said.

An aggressive, vocal opponent of stepped-up activity at the airfield, Save Our Heritage is now pulling out all the stops to try to get FedEx to bypass Hanscom, said Anna Winter, executive director of the Concord-based historic preservation group.

As a first step, Winter said she placed a call last Wednesday to George Mitchell, the former US senator from Maine, who is a member of the FedEx board of directors. Mitchell was overseas at the time, but his secretary said he would call back when he returns, Winter said.

"We remain confident that FedEx won't want to impact an area that's been designated as endangered,'' she added. She was referring to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which on May 29 put the Minute Man National Historical Park and the towns of Bedford, Concord, Lexington, and Lincoln on its list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" because of Hanscom Field activities.

If necessary, her group, Winter said, will work with other activists nationally to picket FedEx facilities. "But they're a public company and should be concerned about their reputation."

FedEx spokeswoman Roberson replied, "Citizens' concerns are very important to us."

This story ran on page 1 of the Boston Globe NW on 6/22/2003. Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company. ========== **NOTICE: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.** ==========

 

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