Westfield board approves airport land purchase

WESTFIELD – The Airport Commission voted Thursday night to close the deal that will expand Barnes Regional Airport.
The board approved a purchase and sale agreement between the city and the owners of a lumberyard, located at 89 Sgt. Dion Way on the southwest corner of the airport’s main runway, to purchase 6.7 acres of land.
The commission also approved a lease for that property with North Hartland Dry Kilns, Inc., of Brattleboro, Vt.
Airport Manager Brian Barnes said the purchase should be closed within a “couple of weeks. The lumberyard will then lease the property, so they go from being the owner to being a tenant.”
Barnes said the lease agreement has a 90-day notification clause, if an aviation-related use of the property occurs.
The land is being purchased for $925,000, with the Federal Aviation Administration funding $227,050, and the Massachusetts Aeronautic Commission and the city both funding $5,975.
The FAA and city are also applying $686,000 in funds paid by Target Corporation for land at the north end of the airport where the company plans to construct a one-million-plus-square-foot distribution facility. The city holds those Target funds in a special account which is controlled by the FAA.
The draft of the Purchase & Sale Agreement and of the Use & Occupancy (Lease) Agreement were both submitted to the city’s Law Department for review. Both agreements had been given preliminary approval by a vote of the Airport Commission.
Barnes raised the issue of having to bring purchase & sale and/or lease agreements to the commission several times, before he can sign the legal documents.
Barnes asked for a vote of the board to eliminate the serial votes, a process that can span several months, because of a need to act more quickly in business dealings.
Commission Chairman Gary Francis, in an effort to shorten the timeline, called for a motion to allow Barnes to sign legal documents which have already been given preliminary approval by the commission, as long as the terms and conditions of those documents remain the same.
Commissioner Joseph Mitchell moved that motion, which was passed by a unanimous roll call vote of the board.

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