Airport commission’s search for airport manager intensifies

WESTFIELD–The city is moving closer to finding a new airport manager at Barnes Municipal Airport.

With the departure of Brian Barnes on Sept. 1, the city has been scrambling to find a replacement. However, due to legislative prerequisites and changing job duties for the airport manager, the Westfield Airport Commission has not been able to begin the official candidate search. However, the commission is getting close to announcing a search committee and posting a job description, which would officially allow candidates to apply.

In order to post the job description however, the commission must submit it to the city council for review, which is scheduled for Aug. 22. Kim Cameron, chairperson for the airport commission, said that there have been a number of changes to the description from when it was originally filled in 1999.

“We are looking for someone with a strong business background,” Mayor Brian Sullivan said. “We want to open the airport up to more business opportunity.”



Sullivan added that they “obviously want a strong aviation background, too.”

Some of the changes include a stronger focus on strategic development, increased public interaction and stronger financial abilities and oversight.

“The council, the commission, the Mayor–everyone–wants the airport to be self-revenue generating,” Cameron said.

“We bring revenue to the city in two ways–one through lease revenue and through taxes paid to the city,” she said. “We want whatever we bring in to cover our operating expenses.”

In addition to the changed job description, Cameron said that the commission is in the process of choosing the search committee to find the most suitable candidates. Those currently committed to the committee include Amber Danahey, Community Outreach Coordinator and mayoral designee, Stefan Czaporowski, superintendent of schools  and Ed Spellacy from Wright Flight. Others positions on the search committee tentatively include a city councilor, an airport commissioner and someone with aviation management experience.

Due to Danahey’s role on the search committee, Sullivan will not be on the committee due to a perceived redundancy, he said in an earlier meeting with the airport commission.

The role of the search committee will be to go through the applications and resumes received, then filter out the most desirable or applicable candidates. Then, the committee will submit the group to the airport commission for selection and interviews.

“We hope to have somebody by the end of September or October, but more realistically we will have someone around December,” Sullivan said.

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