Shut It Down

04Mar09

FAA: Sikorsky Airport safety threatened
By Ken Dixon
STAFF WRITER
Updated: 03/04/2009 07:16:03 PM EST

HARTFORD — While Stratford and Bridgeport bickered for years over the future of Sikorsky Memorial Airport, the runway has deteriorated into a safety hazard, a Federal Aviation Administration official warned Wednesday.

The immediate solution being shut it down, of course. If it’s not safe, another plane should not be allowed to land there. Oh wait…it must be safe if they are still using it. I’m confused.

Speaking on a bill that would extend a ban on improvements to the controversial airfield, which is owned by Bridgeport but located in Stratford’s Lordship neighborhood, Gail Cottrell, an FAA planner, said airport safety is being threatened.

Well Gail, see above. Is it or isn’t it?

Cottrell said the FAA is prepared to pay 95 percent of the estimated $15 million cost of creating a safety zone for planes, removing a blast fence and raising and straightening Main Street — state Route 113 — 300 feet away from the site of an April 1994 crash that killed eight people.

$15 MILLION???!!!! How many planes have to land before the taxpayers get their $15 MILLION back? $15 Million and they can’t man the Tower 24/7? What is wrong with this picture?

And because there has not been a single incident in 15 years? It sounds way safer than LaGuardia. Or even Teterboro.

“It is such a high priority for the FAA,” Cottrell said, stressing that the 4,800 foot runway, which has to be cleaned several times a day to prevent debris from getting into jet engines, has “out-aged its usefulness.” And because there is no safety zone, the airport has missed out on tens of millions of dollars in FAA support, some of which could have already repaved the airstrip.

So…if it were say, 6,000 feet it wouldn’t have to be cleaned several times a day? That didn’t work out so well for the Concorde did it?

Cottrell, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, City Council President Tom McCarthy and Airport Manager John Ricci were joined by private pilots in testifying against a bill that would extend a moratorium barring work on the runway.

“These are minimum requirements that we need for this airport and unfortunately, the town of Stratford has
thwarted our efforts at every turn to do what we think is the right thing for the airport,” Finch said.

Minimum? For what? If it doesn’t meet minimums now…did you notice the Topic headline?

“Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone in good conscience would stand in the way of these safety zones,” Finch said.

Umm, maybe because you haven’t paid Stratford a dime for the last 60 years and you would destroy a vibrant taxpaying neighborhood? Could that be it?

The moratorium, won by Stratford legislators over the last two years, has effectively shut out the state Department of Transportation from participation.

Sen. Dan Debicella, R-Shelton, who submitted this year’s legislation, said that the town and city have been working toward an agreement on the proposal and the additional year, until April 15, 2010, would give them more time to coordinate the future of the airport.

I knew I voted for this guy for a reason. Now if Dan would only think straight about healthcare…

“This proposal has sparked fierce passion by both proponents and opponents, both of whom have a host of facts and arguments around the specifics of the safety zone,” Debicella told the legislative Transportation Committee. “The reason for my bill is the problem is much larger than a 300-foot safety zone. At issue here is we need to come up with a comprehensive solution for this airport.”

After six decades of arguing, he said, Finch and Mayor James R. Miron of Stratford should be given more time to finally hammer out a deal.

These two in a room negotiating a deal? We’re all screwed!

Debicella said his three recommended alternatives include Stratford buying the airport; creating a regional ownership deal among a half dozen neighboring towns and cities; and allowing the construction of the safety zone, but to have Bridgeport give up possible rights to expansion of the runways.

And eliminating property taxes in Lordship and the South End?

Rep. John Harkins, R-Stratford, a member of the committee whose district would include the rerouted Main Street, said that the road straightening would impact the former Army Engine Plant, which the town has been trying to market. Harkins said better lighting, 24-hour tower staffing and even a shorter runway are potential improvements.

You go, John! Wait, was that a mayoral position?

“What seems like a simple problem with easy solutions don’t always work out that way,” Harkins said. Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford, who succeeded in inserting the moratorium in a massive transportation bill, said in an interview Wednesday that there’s a potential solution.

“The airport has economic benefits,” Backer said. “It’s not an economic engine.”

The co-chairmen of the Transportation Committee, Rep. Antonio Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, and Sen. Donald J. DeFronzo, D-New Britain, said they’re getting tired of playing referee to a local land-use issue.

“I think we’re a bit hesitant to continue to extend this moratorium, while it appears in the meantime here the condition of the airport may be deteriorating in some ways and may fall victim to degradation,” DeFronzo said.

The “engineered-materials arresting system” includes a bed of crushed stone designed to stop runaway jets and propeller craft.

Runway 624 ends at the blast fence where, in April of 1994, eight people died when their charter aircraft from Atlantic City failed to stop.

“I was there,” Ricci said. “I saw the bodies taken out of the plane. It’s something I never want to see again.”

If you were really there, why didn’t you pick up a mike and tell the pilot he had to fly another 16 miles to the long runway at New Haven? Or was the tower unmanned and visibility at zero?

And did Marcia Stewart even know about this meeting?

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2 Responses to “Shut It Down”

  1. 1 1george1

    Thursday I sent 2 versions of this Letter to the Editor to the Post and Star.

    Friday I have an e-mail from Steve Winters who said one Letter would be
    Published next week. This below is a REVISED VERSION of the other TWO
    LETTERS, which the first 3 paragraphs were poorly written, and I failed to
    be specific on the Terrorism – NO SHAME NO DECENCY references which I
    felt went far beyond reasonable criticism o fMarcia Stewart.

    March 14, 2009 492 Word, under the Title Letter to the Editor: Crash course for Sikorski Airport:
    George Mulligan, 429 Housatonic Avenue, Stratford, CT. 06615 (203) 378-1888 georgeemcom@yahoo.com

    Crash course for Sikorski Airport: Revised (sent 2 days later)
    March 11th had CT. Post Letters to the Editor from P.Y.E.’s (Protect Your Environment) Marcia Stewart and F.O.S.A.’s (Friends Of Sikorski Airport) Tim English with Website information. FOSA supporters Bob Peel and Morgan Kaolian live in Stratford, while Will Alibrandi and David Faile live in Fairfield, and Tim English lives in Bridgeport. My home can be seen in one of Morgan’s pictures.

    I agree the Airport “could” generate area revenue and be an asset to Stratford and the area, delighting
    FOSA, and the CT. POST Editorial Board. However, I am against expansion.
    I disagree with Mr. English’s portrayal of Marcia Stewart. I believe Marcia is excruciatingly, boringly, honest, and factual when she cites positions, unlike the calumny presented by Mr. English, who ascribed Joseph McCarthy & Edward Murrow quotes to depict Marcia? (“Terrorist? NO Shame/Decency?”)
    Marcia does her homework. She documents everything. When she speaks, we yawn. However, I believe Marcia’s arguments are built on bedrock solid foundation. Mrs. Stewart is a civic minded grandmother, who has honest beliefs being a steward for the marsh/environment.
    I do not disparage Morgan, Bob, David, Will, or Tim if they have financial interests to make honest
    Revenue from the airport, or simply have an equal love for aviation as Marcia has for the Environment.

    I challenge F.O.S.A.; CT. POST Editorial Board; and F.A.A to open debate, if any of YOU OUT of TOWN people would visit Stratford on an Evening or Weekend?

    You want to talk about “paving the airport” for “SAFETY!”
    I like asking indelicate questions about things like:
    Why NO RADAR?
    Why, is Air Traffic Controller Tower not STAFFED 24/7?
    Where is 24/7 Security to protect against Terrorist: Bio-bombs; Chemical or Nuclear Weapons; or other Terrorist favorites, not excluding Cocaine and CONTROLLED Substance Traffic?
    Why have ZERO DEADLY INCIDENTS been attributed to the runway, but rather to PILOT ERROR?
    Where are River and other RESCUE vehicles 24/7 availability?
    Why does Bridgeport NOT repair the TIDAL GATE, flooding Route 113?
    (Or replace Pleasure Beach’s Bridge?)
    What about “SAFETY” of Home Owners and Businesses from Airplanes crashing or having airplane parts fall onto them?
    What about Noise, Pollutants, Toxins, Environment, and Quality of Life?
    What are document-able specific net Revenues, related Cost Benefit justifications, or ROI, which I believe are on hold 17 years?

    Airplanes in flight can turn ON and turn OFF the runway lights at any hour of the night. They take off or land AFTER dark and BEFORE dawn. You and I know that IF, IF, IF, Airplanes can take OFF and land IN the DARK, how much truth does a pretextual polemic have about paving the runways, for SAFETY, rather than for (your?) PROFIT?
    As you know, Mr. English, the FAA can get Congress to waive rules and change laws. Flintstone graven images of writing in stone are passé. Lastly:
    In my opinion, Mr. English – Mrs. Stewart is a decent, honest, factual, civic minded LADY and you SIR, are NO GENTLEMAN!

  2. 2 1george1

    Jeze – Your SPAM FILTER blocked a Letter to the Editor
    about March 11th Letters in the CT POST.

    Steve winters e-mailed one of the 2 earlier versions I sent
    would be published next week.

    Steve felt I over reacted.
    So I had to include the CRACKS about Tim Engish references
    to MCCarthy & Murrow suggesting Marcia Stewart was a
    “TERRORIST” – “NO SHAME” – “NO DECENCY!”

    Steve felt Marcia criticizes.
    However I felt this is personal rather than political.

    Steve felt Marcia can “bend” facts and does not buy into
    the Tidal Basin Gate causing flood of Route 113.
    I replied that Marcia is probably correct related to the
    GATE in most of the Flooding of Route 113.
    However, there will always be times that even a perfect
    GATE will be OVERWHELMED by HIGH TIDE / HEAVY RAIN /
    STRONG WINDS.

    I had to modify it.

    I will send attachment to Jeze – anon


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