FAA will fund noise study, construction plan at Barnes

Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport (THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD — The City Council convened for a special meeting on Aug. 4 to give immediate consideration to two Federal Aviation Administration grants for Westfield-Barnes Airport. Airport Manager Christopher J. Willenborg said the two grants are separate environmental planning grants that are 100 percent funded by the FAA, with no state or local contribution.

The first grant of $464,531 is to update the airport’s noise compatibility plan. Willenborg said this will be a multi-year study to re-evaluate noise levels at the airport, and what can be done to limit their impact on nearby residents. He said over the last five years or so, the focus was on purchasing and demolishing homes and relocating homeowners.

“Now the FAA is looking more at a sound-proofing program, and allowing residents to stay in their homes,” he said, adding, “We have to do this study in order to get there to make it eligible.” He said they will be updating the policy handbook for the program.

Asked whether the upgrade to the noise mitigation plan has anything to do with the 104th Fighter Wing’s conversion to F-35 or F-15EX fighter jets, Willenborg said the two are unrelated.

“There will be a whole separate environmental process when the military will decide on a new fighter jet,” he said.

The second grant accepted on Aug. 4 was for $190,700 to conduct an environmental assessment for Runway 15 obstruction clearing; Taxiway B South realignment and widening; and a new taxiway to the southwest quadrant. This grant is also 100 percent funded by the FAA.

“This is just an environmental assessment of those three projects to identify environmental sensitivities that the projects will have to address in order to meet federal, state and local requirements,” Willenborg said.

The council voted unanimously to accept both grants.

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