Save Our Heritage

Protecting the Birthplace of the American Revolution,

the cradle of the Environmental Movement,

and the Home of the American Literary Renaissance


7/14/05 SOH speaks out on Massport development plans at Hanscom Field

(The following was published in the local papers on July 14, 2005.)

Guest Commentary: A jet overhead every three minutes?

By Anna Winter, Margaret Coppe and Kay Tiffany

Massport is proceeding with expansion plans at Hanscom Field that have grave implications for our communities. We urge citizens to attend the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission (HFAC) meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19, at Concord's Town House (the Concord Town Hall) in Monument Square, to speak out against Massport's latest expansion project. We need to send a message, loud and clear, that runaway airport growth is not acceptable.

Massport makes no secret of its plan to build Hanscom into a mega corporate jetport. It has been working to this end for years, adding facilities in incremental steps that stay under the radar and avoid environmental review. Here's what's happening at Hanscom right now:

-- Massport recently announced plans to award a contract to a private developer, Crosspoint, to build a new Fixed Base Operator (a jet service facility), with a new access off Virginia Road, which will result in a 50 percent increase in Hanscom's capacity to handle corporate jet traffic. This new FBO will have 60,000 square feet of jet hangar space, 18,000 square feet of flight support, and 13,000 square feet of passenger terminal space. (For comparison, the existing Civil Air Terminal in the main building is only about 5,000 square feet.) With the Crosspoint project, some 250,000 square feet of corporate jet infrastructure will have been added to Hanscom since 2000. This is the project that will be on the July 19 HFAC agenda.

-- In addition to this enormous new facility in the little used Pine Hill area of the airport, new T-Hangars for private airplanes are also being built there, which will also bring increased traffic to Virginia Road.

-- Massport has announced plans to spend $4.5 million on improvements to the

East Ramp area, near Hartwell Avenue, also currently a little used area. In light of Massport's known long-range plans to bring in heavy cargo operations with an access off Hartwell Avenue, we can assume that the East Ramp area is being built up to service a commercial cargo airline such as Federal Express.

Jet operations at Hanscom have more than tripled since 1994, reaching an all-time high of 33,000 last year. At this rate of increase, 13.5 percent a year, in 10 years there would be, on average, one noisy and polluting jet flight every three minutes.

Jet use by corporate executives and wealthy flyers is expanding in this country. Jet aviation is a moneymaker for Massport. Our towns and one of America's most precious historic areas, including the birthplace of the American Revolution and Walden Pond an area designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America's Most Endangered Historic Places should not be sacrificed for this.

(Unlike Massport's expansion of Hanscom Field, the expansion of Hanscom Air Force Base is beneficial to the communities. The number of flights generated by the Air Force is insignificant, and the base has always been a good neighbor.)

It is time to demand that common sense prevail over Massport's uncontrolled, unlimited development of this airport. We must demand accountability from Governor Romney and other leaders of Massachusetts. We must insist that a plan for a sustainable Hanscom Field airport be developed. Come to the meeting on July 19 to send this message.

Anna Winter is the executive director of Save Our Heritage (working to protect the birthplace of the American Revolution, the cradle of the American environmental movement, and the home of the American literary renaissance). Margaret Coppe is the president and Kay Tiffany a past president of ShhAir (citizens working to contain expansion at Hanscom Field).


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