GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. (NEWS10) — The Great Barrington airport faces uncertainty as a special permit filing is held up. The airport has been in Great Barrington since the early 1930s, and the future of its existence is now in question.
Monday night, supporters and non-supporters shared their sides as airport officials and the Selectboard held a public comment hearing on whether to approve a new permit for the airport.
Dennis Egan, attorney for the airport, says it is an economic driver for the area.
“$5.2 million in economic impact and 56 jobs can be attributed to the Great Barrington Airport,” said Egan.
Christopher Weaver says the airport is a life saver as it’s often used for medical flights. That, he says, does include his family.
“50 minutes after takeoff, we touched down in Baltimore, and we were met by a waiting ambulance to immediately transport my father to Hopkins, and I credit them with saving my father’s life,” said Weaver.
But there are those who oppose the airport’s special permit. Attorney Tad Heuer represents three airport neighbors and says the permit is open ended and could allow future owners to make big changes.
“To develop the entire 93 acres, that would double its footprint. Again, in a rural, residential neighborhood will increase noise and environmental impacts and dangerous conditions for flyers and residents.”
A concern echoed by another at the meeting: “This has never been about closing the airport. It’s about controlling its growth.”
Some residents cite noise and the possibility of planes crashing as a problem. Two did crash in the area over the past year.
The public also wants any environmental issues to be addressed. Board of Health member, Ruby Chang, wants more testing.
“The application has gone through the Board of Health, and I just wanted to say I would like to see an independent environmental assessment. Paid for by the airport,” said Chang.
“Let’s keep this airport going. It’s an important community asset. It’s demonstrated itself throughout its history that it’s valued to this area,” said a supporter for the airport.
If the Selectboard approves the special permit the airport would still be required to answer to the town for environmental and any other reviews if it plans future projects on the property.
The hearing will continue until March 13.