The battle against increased air traffic has been waged by New Haven environmental activists for a decade. Due to recent legislative efforts at the city and state level, this battle seems increasingly dire.
Rachel Heerema, a New Haven resident and member of the activist group STOP Tweed Expansion, joined the city’s Environmental Advisory Council on Wednesday night at City Hall. Heerema is one of many residents who have expressed concerns about the Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport’s proposed runway expansion. The expansion would require state funds, which looks more likely since the January decision by the Connecticut Airport Authority and Tweed Airport Authority to “explore a deeper partnership.”
Heerema said that those in favor of the airport expansion were going back on 2009 legislation that limited Tweed’s runway length.
“I moved into the neighborhood after [the 2009 legislation] and I assumed that the memorandum of agreement was a memorandum that would stand. And, in fact, it hasn’t,” Heerema said at the meeting.
The runway expansion was forbidden by a 2009 memorandum between New Haven and East Haven as well as by a Connecticut state law passed in the same year. The state law and memorandum of agreement both limited Tweed Airport’s main runway at 5,600 feet — with the memorandum also limiting annual boardings at 180,000. Yet, the agreement between New Haven and East Haven was revoked by Mayor Toni Harp in January. The State Transportation Committee, co-chaired by state Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, has introduced legislation to remove the 2009 state law.
New Haven Independent, March 3, 2019
(Opinion) — Here we go again. The now-annual expansion campaign by Tweed New-Haven Airport is looming over the East Shore, Morris Cove, and East Haven. Tweed boosters are rushing to Hartford on March 4 to ram through House Bill 7143, which would remove any restriction on airport expansion. This is New Haven democracy at work — introduce legislation at the state level before residents and taxpayers can have any input or are even aware of the proposal.
This year, the tone is even more confrontational and indifferent than in 2018, with Mayor Harp ripping up the 2009 agreement after deciding the city isn’t bound by it. At Tweed board meetings, it has become clear that airport management has nothing but disdain for residents. When expansion was rebuffed last year, “Looney’s legions” were blamed by airport head and then-State Sen.r Larson for “screwing” Tweed. Neighbors are consistently said to be holding the airport “hostage”. One board member suggested ignoring the surrounding community because we’re too “unreasonable”.
There is another interpretation. Tweed and City leaders have already heard the reasonable objections of the surrounding community, loud and clear, but will continue to bully us until we submit to airport expansion. Even if we ignore the long and protracted legal battles that preceded Tweed’s last expansion in 2009, residents have come out in force in 2014, 2015, and 2018 to halt the airport’s advancement.
The same arguments for airport restraint still apply, but with even more urgency. As readers of the New Haven Indy know, our City and State are still in a fiscal crisis, with New Haven borrowing money to shovel debt far into the future. We should be grateful that taxpayer money was never wasted on a doomed expansion last year. It would have come not only at the detriment of local residents and neighbors, but also at the expense of the environment.