Save Our Heritage

Protecting the Birthplace of the American Revolution,

the cradle of the Environmental Movement,

and the Home of the American Literary Renaissance

 

This document is the joint work of citizens, Selectmen, and State and Federal representatives, and expresses a common view of the situation at Hanscom Field and the urgent action required.

 

HANSCOM AT THE CROSSROADS

Whereas: The historic area surrounding and abutting Hanscom Field, the birthplace of the American Revolution, is hallowed ground belonging to the entire nation and must be preserved for future generations of Americans.

  • Hanscom Field sits in the midst of one of the nation's most important historic treasures: the battlegrounds of Lexington and Concord, where the "shot heard 'round the world" was fired and the American Revolution began. In order to protect this hallowed ground, Congress established Minute Man National Historical Park to preserve the Old North Bridge and the Battle Road, where the first battles of the American Revolution were fought on April 19, 1775.

  • Minute Man National Historical Park abuts Hanscom Field. Access to the airport is through the Park, along the historic Battle Road - the primary resource that the Park was created to protect.

  • In addition to the National Park, within three runway lengths of the airport there are more than one thousand National Historic Register and National Landmark sites, including the homes of Alcott, Thoreau, Hawthorne and Emerson, and over eight thousand acres of protected public open space, including Walden Pond and Walden Woods, the birthplace and symbol of environmental consciousness.

  • This historic area is also a linchpin of the recently created, 42-community, interstate Freedom's Way Heritage Area.

Whereas: Tourism is the third largest industry in Massachusetts, and the historic area surrounding Hanscom Field is a major tourist attraction which will be damaged by further development of the airport.

  • Minute Man National Historical Park is a top destination park in the country. Together with Walden and the other nearby historic sites, it draws over two million American and international visitors a year, bringing millions of tourist dollars to Massachusetts.

Whereas: Hanscom has been the second busiest airport in New England for decades, and has exceeded two hundred thousand annual takeoffs and landings for the past two years in a row.

  • As a general aviation airport, Hanscom serves private pilots, corporate aviation, charters, flight schools and other business operations. Without such a large general aviation airport close to Boston, many of these planes would be landing at Logan, further compounding congestion there.

  • Even without the dire consequences of the recent expansion of commercial and corporate aviation, Hanscom has had, and will continue to have, serious traffic, noise, sprawl and pollution impacts on its environs.

Whereas: Recent, unprecedented developments and current activity at Hanscom are an immediate threat to this historic, environmentally sensitive area and demand urgent action, lest we face irrevocable loss.

  • Rapid and escalating changes in aviation at Hanscom Field over the last few years have confirmed the fears of community leaders, residents, the National Park Service, Walden preservationists and historians around the country, and are destroying the delicate balance between the airport and its environs.

  • Despite years of assurances that Hanscom would remain a general aviation airport and not take scheduled airline traffic, the Massport board voted in 1999 to allow commercial passenger service at Hanscom. This major change in use of the field was made unilaterally, without appropriate consultation with the affected communities or with the National Park Service.

  • Since 1999 the number of commercial flights has mushroomed and threatens to exceed the peak level of daily operations (48) contemplated in the 1995 Generic Environmental Impact Report.

  • Fractional jet ownership (time-sharing) has created a new type of passenger aviation and initiated a new era of increased corporate jet use. Jet operations at Hanscom doubled between 1995 and 2000, and in recent months jet activity levels have more than tripled over what they were in 1995. Jets account for 80 percent of the airport noise.

  • The burgeoning use of Hanscom for commercial and corporate passenger aviation is driving out private pilots and flight schools, drastically changing the character of the airport and its impacts on its environs.

  • In recent years Massport has spent millions of dollars on aviation infrastructure and has announced plans for the expenditure of additional millions to support the expansion of both commercial and corporate aviation at Hanscom. Massport has also announced an unprecedented plan to cut many thousands of trees and clear other vegetation around the airport, including the removal of seven to ten thousand trees in the Bedford Town Forest alone. This, combined with runway upgrades, will invite and facilitate the use of Hanscom's secondary runway by larger jets.

  • These aviation changes are compounding serious traffic congestion on the region's already overburdened roads and highways.

  • There are recurring and credible reports that Federal Express and other cargo and passenger airlines are eyeing Hanscom.
  • A recent change in the state's environmental regulations has seriously eroded our ability to protect the Hanscom area's historic and environmental treasures.

Therefore: We call for an immediate moratorium on any additional passenger aviation, including commercial, corporate and jet time-sharing, any changes of use, and any infrastructure improvements or new development at Hanscom until a regionally driven, multi-state, multi-modal transportation plan is in place. Such planning must take account of all the New England regional airports, high-speed rail, highway planning, and recent advances in teleconferencing and web conferencing. (The proposed moratorium would not apply to Hanscom Air Force Base or to any military use of the airport.)

  • Massport is making piecemeal, ad hoc decisions that are permanently damaging historic sites and that are both economically and environmentally shortsighted. These decisions do not add up to wise transportation planning, but do, in their cumulative impact, have a devastating and permanent impact on this critical and fragile region.

  • There must be official acknowledgement that Hanscom has a limited role to play in regional aviation and that going beyond those limits has unacceptable consequences for the Greater Boston area, the Commonwealth, and the nation. Policies must be put in place that will assure, in perpetuity, a defined and limited role for Hanscom.

  • The economic, environmental and historical importance of this area makes it a unique Massachusetts and American treasure. We must not allow it to be lost to the effects of the reckless, unplanned growth that is currently taking place.

Adopted by: April 2002 by: 


U.S. Representative Edward Markey

U.S. Representative Martin Meehan

U.S. Representative John Tierney

State Senator Susan Fargo

State Senator Robert Havern

State Senator Pam Resor

State Representative Cory Atkins

State Representative Jay Kaufman

State Representative Charles Murphy

State Representative Susan Pope

State Representative Thomas Stanley

 Acton Board of Selectmen 

Bedford Board of Selectmen

Carlisle Board of Selectmen

Concord Board of Selectmen

Lexington Board of Selectmen

Lincoln Board of Selectmen Waltham City Council

Wayland Board of Selectmen

Woburn City Council

Save Our Heritage

ShhAir

 

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