RIAC plans need to be taken seriously

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 10:00am

To the Editor,
Our town officials need to start taking RIAC plans to raise airport user fees and to turn our airport into an industrial park seriously.
The Rhode Island Airport Corporation has targeted the five outlying airports like Block Island and Westerly for non-aviation related commercial development and hundreds of thousands in new airport user fees, designed to improve, at our expense, their bottom line at the TF Green Airport.
As reported in The Block Island Times, the Block Island State Airport Stakeholders Group has been alerting town management to these critical issues for years without any tangible results. Instead, our First Warden recently referred to me as “The Island Kraken” instead of “The Airport Advocate,” in a public meeting, with RIAC management in attendance.
Block Island has been a target for RIAC funding and service cuts for years, including a defunding of our airport attendant in 2018, a canceling of a $4.3 million paved aircraft parking apron project in 2019, a proposed parking for fee program at Block Island and Westerly, which would cost Block Island residents and our visitors over $100k a year, and now RIAC is “piling on” by advertising four parcels of airport property for commercial lease, to create an industrial park for non-aviation businesses, in the island’s Residential A zone.
There is no reason for RIAC to balance their budget deficits at the TF Green Airport on Block Islanders’ backs and if we are going to push back on these ill-conceived programs, we need the full support of our Town Council and state representatives.

Please join the Block Island State Airport Stakeholders’ Group in urging our town officials to push back on RIAC’s assault on the general aviation in Rhode Island, and especially the Block Island State Airport, which by RIAC’s own records, generates over $26 million in economic benefit each year to the state economy.
Henry duPont

BI State Airport Stakeholders’ Group
Beacon Hill, Block Island