The planned revitalization of Tweed New Haven Airport is having trouble achieving liftoff.
Tweed New Haven Airport Authority Chairman Mark Volchek ’00 GRD ’00 announced Friday that he will halt construction of two safety zones on Tweed’s runway for 60 days. The standstill in the $10 million project comes as Tweed officials have said they want to increase communication between the airport and community residents, many of whom have expressed unhappiness with the proposed expansion.
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The announcement follows a recent lawsuit by many East Haven residents — including Mayor April Capone Almon — contesting a permit Volchek received from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to expand the airport into the town’s wetlands.
Construction was slated to begin Friday, but the Tweed Authority announced in a press release Friday that it would be putting on the brakes for two months in order to increase community understanding of the project.
“We want to be a good neighbor,” Volchek said in the press release. “Delivering more information to community residents will allow for a better project in the long run.”
But the permit — which Tweed Airport needs in order to continue with the expansion — may expire if the organization delays construction too long, Volcheck told the Board of Aldermen in a Feb. 7 meeting.
The Runway Safety Area Project — the name of the now-delayed project — is part of a two-pronged plan for the expansion and revitalization of the airport. The second project calls for the elimination of trees that will obstruct the projected airspace that will be added to the airport.
The two projects were announced in the Feb. 7 aldermanic meeting. Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield said then that the expansion, which has been in the planning stage for about seven years, needs to be conducted soon — or not all.
The most recent attempt at revitalization started in December of 2006. Even then, residents of East Haven, on which the airport borders, were unhappy with the expansion. At a Board of Aldermen meeting on April 20, 2007, many New Haven residents also told city officials that they were unhappy with the city’s decision to subsidize a “worthless” airport.
Still, the recent announcement suggested a potential turn-around — at least for the East Haven mayor.
According to the press release, Volcheck and Tweed Airport Authority Executive Director Timothy Larson met with Almon to discuss the project before the release was published. Almon said she is receptive to the project, as long as the community is involved.
“I look forward to starting a new dialogue with Tweed neighbors and addressing some long-held concerns about the airport,” she said in the press release. “The sooner we start to work together, the sooner we will benefit from the value the airport brings to the region.”