RIAC has Block Island in its sights, once again

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 4:45pm

To the Editor,
The Rhode Island Airport Corporation is planning to impose a costly airport parking program at the Block Island and Westerly State Airports with no notice to the flying public as is required by RI State law. The parking program will include signage that will instruct anyone driving their vehicle onto State Airport property that they are entering a “Parking for Fee” zone and that they must download the “Passport Parking” application on their smart phone. The application will ask the new user to identify their vehicle, provide a credit card number, and to declare how long they intend to park on airport property. The web-based application will charge your credit card and then monitor your location to determine when the vehicle departs airport property. At the end of the paid period, if the car has not moved, the application will notify the user that an additional fee is required. Fees proposed are $10 a day with the first couple of hours gratis. The parking application web site describes 21st century enforcement measures that include “The Barnacle” a plastic sun-shield shaped device that the airport authority can affix to your windshield with a suction pressure that can only be released when the vehicle owner uses the parking application to pay the past due parking charges. Once these are paid, the application gives the vehicle owner a “release code,” which when entered into the embedded Barnacle keypad, releases the suction pressure so the device can be removed. The user is then requested to place the device in the “Barnacle Receptacle” box near the airport parking lot entrance.
The Block Island State Airport Stakeholders Group feels that this program is a bad idea for the following reasons:
If this program is instituted only at Block Island and Westerly State Airports, and not at any of the other RI General Aviation State Airports, it will discriminate against Block Island residents and visitors alike.
The parking application, which tracks your smartphone’s location is very invasive.
The parking program does nothing to remove the abandoned cars at the airport.
If RIAC does not properly advertise this new program with a formal “Notice of Intended Rulemaking”, provide a public comment period, as well as the availability of public hearings, they will be in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
If the airport parking program costs more than a ferry vehicle charge, it will increase vehicular congestion on the Island.
Lastly, if nothing else, this program will certainly serve to hurt New England Airlines.
The Block Island State Airport Stakeholders Group has sent two formal email requests to the town manager requesting that this item be put on the Town Council Meeting agenda, for Wednesday May 19 without the courtesy of a reply. Hopefully our town administration will work with all of us to help keep the burgeoning costs of living and visiting Block Island from significantly increasing yet again.
Henry duPont
Chair, Block Island State Airport
Stakeholders’ Group
PO Box 457
Block Island, RI 02807