The Concord Journal

March 22, 2001

State officials sign on to Hanscom flights appeal

Parties to a friend-of-the-court brief filed Monday in the case of Save Our Heritage, et al. v. Federal Aviation Administration today expressed their strong concerns about the FAA’s failure to meet its obligations under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act before it approved new flights between Hanscom Field and New York’s LaGuardia Airport last October.

“I have been very troubled by the FAA’s failure to complete the review process prior to their approval of Shuttle America’s flights,” said Secretary of State William Galvin. “I feel that by joining in the amicus curiae brief, there will be an opportunity for the court to understand that the FAA chose to avoid the legal requirements of historic preservation consultation mandated by federal law and regulations.”

The Massachusetts Historical Commission, whose role in Section 106 reviews was frustrated by the FAA’s actions in this case, is a division of the Secretary of State’s office, and he is its chairman. As a result of Secretary Galvin’s concern, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is supporting the petitioners’ position in this case by co-signing the court brief.

U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Lowell, has also joined the cause. “I am hopeful that the legal system will recognize the incredible impact that commercial aviation has on the more than 1,000 significant environmental and historic properties that lie within three runway lengths of the airport,” he said. “These sites from the Revolutionary War and the homes some of our greatest authors are national treasures that we need to preserve for all Americans.”

Two nonprofit citizen’s organizations are also on the brief. Freedom’s Way Heritage Association works to preserve and protect the shared history of the nationally significant resources in a 40-town region from Arlington, MA to New Ipswich, NH, including the Hanscom area.

“The FAA’s failure to fully consider impacts threatens our area’s historic resources," said Richard Canale, president of the association. "We join in asking the court to set aside the FAA’s decision and to require the FAA to complete a Section 106 study.”

Historic Concord is a member-supported organization concerned with the preservation and protection of Concord’s historic resources. “Additional air and road traffic resulting from expanded commercial air service at Hanscom Field poses a serious threat,” said Christine Rinaldo, the organization’s president. “We welcome the opportunity to participate as a co-amicus with the National Trust in this important matter.”

The brief was written by attorneys for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the leader of the private historic preservation movement in America. The Trust has participated in many Section 106 cases and has considerable expertise in this area. It was chartered by Congress in 1949 as a nonprofit organization whose mission is to facilitate public participation in historic preservation. The Trust has about 250,000 individual members nationwide and almost 11,000 members in Massachusetts.

Save Our Heritage, the lead petitioner in the appeal of the FAA’s ruling, expressed gratitude for the support of the amici and emphasized the importance of this case.

“There are over 19,000 airports in this country,” said Anna Winter, a Concord resident and Save Our Heritage’s executive director “There is only one birthplace of the American Revolution, one home of the American environmental movement. If this paramount piece of American history is not worthy of protection, then no part of America’s heritage is sacred or secure.”

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