Boston Globe, NorthWest section
July 11, 2002
Group disputes Hanscom projection
Preservationists say airport growth will be dramatic
By Davis Bushnell, Globe Correspondent
BEDFORD -- Massachusetts Port Authority officials are greatly underestimating the projected growth of corporate and charter jet activity at Hanscom Field over the next 13 years, according to Save Our Heritage, a historic preservation group.
The Concord-based nonprofit organization is disputing Massport forecasts released June 27 as part of the agency's first presentation of the 2005-2015 Environmental Status and Planning Report on the airfield.
Massport estimates there could be as many as 36,114 corporate and charter jet operations in 2005, and 54,961 in 2015. Save Our Heritage leaders say those numbers don't reflect a dramatic, continuing increase in operations, most of them corporate, since Sept. 11, 2001.
For example, flights of companies like Lexington-based Raytheon, Hopkinton-based EMC Corp., and charter carriers averaged 2,678 a month for the first five months of this year, said Anna Winter, executive director of Save Our Heritage. If those monthly figures hold up for the rest of the year, she said, the 2002 total would be 32,136 operations -- 10,000 more than in 2001 and just 4,000 shy of the 2005 projection.
Massport is "assuming a drastic reduction in the rate of growth of jet operations" through 2015, "and there is no basis for that assumption," Winter said in a statement on Monday.
Winter contended the agency wants to turn Hanscom into "a huge corporate jetport." She said, "A truthful analysis of the noise impact of such a development would cause a political firestorm, So, naturally, Massport is continuing in its usual course of deception and misrepresentation."
That's not so, said Jose Juves, a Massport spokesman. Although there has been a spike in corporate and charter jet operations the past 10 months at Hanscom, "our aviation specialists, studying trends nationwide, tell us that this will be a one-time spurt," he said.
Sheldon Moll, a Bedford selectman and new chairman of the Hanscom Area Towns Committee, said the environmental report "seems not to have taken into account the last year of jet aviation growth at Hanscom. Massport may think that business is cyclical, but I don't."
The general manager of Hanscom's Jet Aviation, whose longtime corporate customers include Raytheon, said there has been a leveling off of corporate operations the past three months due to the economy and cutbacks in corporate travel budgets.
"I think there will be continued growth" in corporate and charter jet activity at Hanscom, said Frank Diglio, "but at a conservative rate."
In any event, the issue will get an airing at public hearings on the environmental report in September and October conducted by officials in Bedford, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln, said Moll, whose term recently ended as chairman of the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission.
The first meeting of the committee that he will chair, set for July 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Bedford Town Hall, will be devoted, he said, to an update on housing matters at Hanscom Air Force Base. Base officials, he said, had asked that these matters be put on a meeting agenda.
The news is that, by year's end, the base will go out for bids on owning and managing 687 of 850 housing units, said Chuck Paone, an Air Force spokesman. Some 2,500 personnel live on the base.
Congress, he added, is requiring that the management of all military housing be privatized as a cost-cutting measure. Since the late 1980s, he said, a Clinton firm, Claremont Management, has been managing 163 units at Patriot Village on the base for the owner, Hanscom Limited Partnership. The Air Force leases back those units from the owner, Paone said.
"This is a good example of outsourcing: better housing at less cost," said Paone.
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