Airport park project flying forward


WESTFIELD – Development of the Airport Industrial Park is on track with reconstruction of the roadway and installation of city utilities expected to be completed prior to the new fiscal year which begins July 1.
City Advancement Officer Jeff Daley, speaking at the Westfield Redevelopment Authority’s (WRA) meeting, said that the grant which is funding the reconstruction of Airport Industrial Road “is for this current fiscal year, so the bulk of that money has to be spent and reimbursed to the city by July 1, 2013. The contract calls for the work to be done by June 1, (2013) so there is lead time for the reimbursement process.”
The city was awarded a $2 million state economic development grant to reconstruct, and realign, Airport Industrial Road through the Massworks Infrastructure Program.
The current access road between North Road and Elise Street, where there are a number of industrial and aviation-related tenants including Gulfstream, is currently a hodgepodge of street fragments, including two segments of Apremont Way, and a segment of Old Stage Way. Daley said the current road does not conform to the city’s zoning requirements for an industrial park road.
Daley said that Attorney Calvin Annio is also researching the deeds and documents of the 80 acres of land, belonging to the city’s airport, that is being developed. The city used Federal Aviation Authority funding to acquire the property, which will be reflected in how that land is developed.
“The FAA has restrictions on what we can and cannot do on that property, such as height restrictions,” Daley said.
“Cal Annio is reviewing those document to determine how best to go,” Daley said. “A lot of it is still up in the air, but I think it will be leased because the FAA spent more than a million dollars.”
Daley said that the city would be required to refund the FAA funding if the land is sold, so it is more likely that the property will be put under long-term leases, a common practice at municipally-owned airports, such as Barnes Regional Airport.
“As we get further down the line, we’ll be getting deeper into real estate value,” Daley said. “We’ll have to come up with a lease number. There are few airports in the state, but there is also a very small aviation market and we’d have to consider all of the other benefits of aircraft-related use, including the city’s surcharge on fuel.”
“The Airport Commission will sign the leases, but the commission could designate the WRA as its agent and the WRA could recommend a TIF (Tax Incentive Financing) which would have to go to the City Council,” Daley said.
The next step in developing the industrial park is completing an environmental report. The Airport Industrial Road bisects the 80 acres, with roughly 40 acres to the east and to the west of the reconstructed roadway. Daley said that half of the west parcel, 20 acres, will have direct access to the airport.
“We’re trying to hold onto that land for aviation-related purposes,” Daley said. “The goal is to have the entire 80 acres permitted , then as we get through the engineering phase, develop the east side. We’ll start a pretty aggressive marketing campaign as soon as the environmental and engineering efforts are complete.”

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