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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Zullo

‘Trust’ once again central issue at public meeting on Tweed master plan

EAST HAVEN — It all comes down to trust — and right now, East Haveners don’t trust Tweed New Haven Regional Airport or the the City of New Haven to do what they say they will do.

That was the overriding message that came out of the second public input meeting on Tweed’s upcoming master plan update, which about 70 members of the public attended Thursday night in the East Haven Senior Center.

The message, coming as Tweed seeks to lengthen its 5,600-foot main runway to at least 6,000 feet, was similar to what many of their New Haven neighbors conveyed in the first meeting Wednesday night at Nathan Hale School in New Haven. That meeting drew about 90 people.

The proposed runway lengthening, which will be studied during the 18-month, federally-mandated master plan update process, nevertheless is only one aspect of the process. It will study Tweed’s potential for short-, medium- and long-term development, as well as historical trends, environmental constraints and even which planes would be best suited for it.

“The major thing right now is trust — and these people have no trust for you guys,” said Town Councilman Joe Santino Jr., D-2.

Other local officials who attended included state Rep. Joseph Zullo, R-East Haven, Councilwoman Samantha Parlato, R-4, and Councilman Robert Ranfone, R-4.

Essentially, “you have a credibility problem ... and that problem is why we’re having this meeting tonight,” said East Havener Arvin Murch.

Murch was a member of the East Haven Planning and Zoning Commission when New Haven promised in 2009 not to lengthen the runway in order to get East Haven to drop objections to building federally-mandated, unpaved runway safety areas at either end of the runway.

Now New Haven wants to pave some portion of those safety areas in order to lengthen the usable surface of the runways for takeoffs.

That said, Murch wanted to know “what do you see, what is your best-case scenario for this airport ... in terms of annual landings and takings-off?”

Jeffrey Wood, regional director of aviation for consultant McFarland Johnson — and the master plan update project manager — responded, “I don’t have any preconceived notions. I know you’re not going to like that.

“But we are at the very beginning” of the process “and we are going to go where the data takes us,” said Wood, who co-facilitated the meeting with McFarland Johnson’s Jill Barrett.

Two citizens input committees that will be part of the master plan update study process — a technical advisory committee and a citizens advisory committee — have yet to hold their first meetings.

Ninety percent of the cost of the master plan update is being paid by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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