County gets rosy airport update

Wastewater plant work looms as an expense for business park tenants.

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Airport Commission chair Bob Rosenbaum said his working relationship with County Commissioners chair Christine Todd is good.

Wednesday night Dukes County commissioners heard a positive report from airport commission chair Bob Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum said the fiscal health of the airport is good and relationships with tenants and with the county are healthy. However, he warned the wastewater plant that serves the business park was due for an expensive remodeling job.

The airport is “doing very well” and has a “healthy operating surplus,” Rosenbaum said. He described the airport as “currently debt-free”.

Rosenbaum said the good fiscal health of the airport is the result of “excellent financial management, accurate and timely financial reporting, and grants from the various federal programs that cover salaries etc. during the pandemic.”

He also said airport employees are all “healthy and doing a good job of keeping the airport safe” under Geoff Freeman’s management

“Our annual FAA inspections have gone extremely well,” Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum said the airport commission is working well and is devoid of egotistical thinking or political ambition. 

Rosenbaum described relations with the county as good and said the continuity of county commission chair Christine Todd has been very helpful because his working relationship with her has been positive. 

Rosenbaum made special note of how well the airport is getting along with its business park tenants following several years of bad blood over rent hikes or the threat of them. 

“Relationships with the airport business park tenants are on good terms now,” Rosenbaum said, “after years of conflict.” Rosenbaum said the airport commission has “made it a priority” to maintain an open ear regarding tenant concerns.

“The new fair market value policy that was recently approved by the FAA has removed a significant financial burden for the tenants [when] their leases renew,” he said. 

Rosenbaum tipped his hat to Dukes County commissioner Peter Wharton, a former airport commissioner, Freeman, and airport commissioner Geoff Wheeler for making the policy a reality.

Despite the present pretty picture, Rosenbaum said a big expense is on the horizon. 

“The biggest challenge now that the airport is facing is the renovation of the wastewater facility,” he said. “This plant was built about 70 years ago in order to make the business park a reality. While there have been several upgrades over the years, we are now being required by MassDEP (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection) to bring the plant up to current standards. The cost of this project is currently estimated at $7 million. Unfortunately, the tenants are going to have to bear the major portion of theis cost, over $5.5 million, due to the FAA’s regulations… Without major grants, it will be a huge financial burden placed on these businesses which provide critical services to the Island.”

Rosenbaum said the airport commission and airport management are “investing an immense amount of time” hunting down grants. To this end, Rosenbaum said a grant from the county ARPA fund would be very helpful. 

Rosenbaum also told the commissioners how impactful the blizzard was at the airport. 

“That past Saturday’s snowstorm had a big impact on all the airports along the southern and eastern portions of the state. MVY was closed to all traffic except helicopter medflights until Monday morning.”

Some other airports, like New Bedford’s, were still closed on Tuesday, Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum thanked the operations staff for working ‘round the clock during the storm and after it.

Rosenbaum expressed his condolences to Lenny Jason, a former county commissioner, on the death of his wife, Sheila, who passed away last week. Jason was not present at the meeting. 

On Rosenbaum’s recommendation, which included a litany of their credentials and successes, the county commissioners reappointed Don Ogilvie and Kristin Zern to the airport commission.

In other business Dukes County manager and emergency manager Martina Thornton described the emergency management response to the storm as successful and “a great team effort”. She made note of work and accommodations done and offered by the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office as particularly helpful. 

When asked by Todd if beach erosion was discovered following the storm, Thornton said it was at State Beach on the Oak Bluffs side. Thornton said she’s at work on a plan to use dredging spoils from the little bridge channel, which remain stockpiled onsite, to help renourish the beach. She also said she intends to see beach grass planted.

1 COMMENT

  1. That’s the way it should be done.. key point here :
    ” the airport commission is working well and is devoid of egotistical thinking or political ambition.”

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