||Save Our Heritage|
Protecting the Birthplace of the American Revolution,
the cradle of the Environmental Movement,
and the Home of the American Literary Renaissance
Communities appeal FAA decision on Hanscom expansion
Save our Heritage, in conjunction with the community organization SSAIR, the Concord Historical Commission, and others, have appealed the recent FAA decision to allow Massport to demolish a historic hangar and allow a massive buildup of aviation infrastructure at Hanscom Field.
According to Margaret Coppe of ShhAir: “We are filing this appeal because we are concerned about the long range consequences of the decision processes that Massport and the FAA have been using at Hanscom Field, which have not properly considered the special nature of the historic environment of the surrounding towns,” says SHHAIR’s president Margaret Coppe. “If we don’t ensure that Massport and the FAA follow the laws regarding historic preservation, we risk a radical and unfortunate transformation of Hanscom Field which will ultimately be incompatible with the historic sites and associated tourism, and harm the character and quality of life in our communities. Given that the towns have virtually no direct control over development at Hanscom Field, the best route available to us is to appeal the FAA decision and force a review of the flawed process.”
The complete press release follows:
PRESS RELEASE – 8/17/10
DEMOLITION OF HISTORIC HANGAR 24 and PROPOSED JET FACILITY BUILDOUT APPEALED IN U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT
Contact: ShhAir President - Margaret Coppe
781-862-2637 – firstname.lastname@example.org
On August 16, 2010, SHHAIR (Safeguarding the Historic Hanscom Area’s Irreplaceable Resources) appealed the FAA’s (Federal Aviation Administration) decision to approve the demolition of the historic MIT Hangar 24 in Concord at Massport-owned L.G. Hanscom Field Airport.
SHHAIR is joined by co-appellants Concord Historical Commission, Save Our Heritage, The Walden Woods Project, and Virginia Road resident Lynn Bloom. The grounds for the appeal are threefold: first, that the FAA has not properly met its obligation under Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act to determine that there is no prudent and feasible alternative to the destruction of historic Hangar 24, second, that the FAA failed to meet its obligation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to identify affected historic properties and mitigate adverse impact on those properties, and third, that the FAA’s Environmental Assessment is flawed in claiming that a proposed major build out of new jet facilities will cause no significant environmental impact.
Hangar 24 is located on residential Virginia Road, Concord, and within walking distance of Minute Man National Historical Park. It is listed on the Massachusetts Inventory of Historic Assets and is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places for the numerous achievements in aerospace engineering and technology that took place there over its 55 year history, including: Dr. Charles Draper’s inertial navigation; the first airborne collision avoidance systems; advanced radar systems; solar photovoltaic power systems; instrumentation for the Apollo Space Mission, and more.
Supporters for preserving Hangar 24 have long held that the re-use and refurbishment of the building is a feasible and environmentally responsible alternative to demolition. A central issue in the appeal is that Massport has not solicited or seriously considered any proposals for re-use as an alternative to demolition and is rushing headlong to demolish the historic Hangar 24 before the agency has even identified a developer willing and able to redevelop the site. One concept that has been proposed is converting the hangar to an in situ Aerospace and Technology museum to showcase the many nationally and internationally significant accomplishments that took place there; this would be an appropriate alternative to its destruction, and compatible with nearby Minute Man Park and the surrounding neighborhoods.
In recognition of its historical importance, the Town of Concord voted overwhelmingly to add Hangar 24 to its Demolition Delay Bylaw, on second highest priority, at a Special Town Meeting in 2007. Supporters for preserving Hangar 24 have included U.S. Representatives Markey, Tsongas, and Tierney; State Representatives Jay Kaufman, Cory Atkins, Thomas Conroy, Charles Murphy, and Thomas Stanley; State Senators Susan Fargo and former Robert Havern; Hanscom Area Town Selectmen (HATS) form Concord, Lexington, Lincoln and Bedford; Minute Man National Historical Park; the National Trust for Historic Preservation; past employees of Draper Lab, Lincoln Lab, MIT, and the US Air Force; and community organizations and individuals.
FAA’s approval to destroy historic Hangar 24 – which was made despite virtually unanimous consulting party opposition -- is part of a larger decision effective June 18, 2010, which would allow Massport to:
Altogether, these plans represent:
· up to 460,000 square feet of new hangar infrastructure (equivalent to about eight football fields)
· a doubling of existing hangar infrastructure at Hanscom
· the biggest expansion at Hanscom Field in history
FAA, in its 6/18/10 Environmental Assessment (EA) determined that these expansion plans will have “no significant impact,” and that they “will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.” The surrounding towns, neighborhood, and elected officials disagree with FAA’s conclusion – and the seriously flawed process and standards of measurement that led to it.
At a 1/7/10 public meeting on the FAA’s then-draft environmental assessment (EA), U.S. Representatives Markey, Tsongas, and Tierney stated: “The draft environmental assessment states that there would be no ‘significant’ impact on the surrounding area; however, the FAA appears to have failed to consider the unique and essential fact that Hanscom Field abuts both Minute Man National Historical Park and Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge.”
Also in close proximity to the airport are Walden Pond/Walden Woods, 8,000 acres of protected public open space, the homes of Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott, and over 1,000 sites eligible for the National Register.
The historic environs surrounding Hanscom Field was designated in 2003 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places, primarily due to the threats (air and ground noise) associated with increased aviation operations. Over 90% of the aviation operations at Hanscom Field are from private luxury aircraft, with only a few percent for military or public purposes.
Addressing their concerns for Hangar 24 and the Park, as well as for the FAA’s inappropriate standard of noise measurement, U.S. Representatives Markey, Tsongas and Tierney stated in a letter written last summer (8/5/09) to FAA director Randolph Babbitt:
“We have significant concerns about the deleterious effect that the demolition and expansion of Hangar 24, as outlined in the draft EA, would have on the nearby Minute Man National Historical Park. Any increase in air traffic at Hanscom or vehicle travel along nearby roads could lead to adverse noise impacts on the Park. As a result, we request that the FAA…before finalizing the Environmental Assessment…further study the cumulative impacts of increased air and ground traffic on the Park during the Park’s visiting hours, rather than averaged out over a 24-hour period as was done in the draft EA. Further we request that the FAA also examine the impact of peak noise levels on the Park and its visitors.”
FAA has ignored the Congressional delegation’s requests.
“We are filing this appeal because we are concerned about the long range consequences of the decision processes that Massport and the FAA have been using at Hanscom Field, which have not properly considered the special nature of the historic environment of the surrounding towns,” says SHHAIR’s president Margaret Coppe. “If we don’t ensure that Massport and the FAA follow the laws regarding historic preservation, we risk a radical and unfortunate transformation of Hanscom Field which will ultimately be incompatible with the historic sites and associated tourism, and harm the character and quality of life in our communities. Given that the towns have virtually no direct control over development at Hanscom Field, the best route available to us is to appeal the FAA decision and force a review of the flawed process.”