A 43-year lease that would pave the way for an expansion of the Tweed-New Haven Airport received a significant approval on Wednesday, as the Airport Authority voted 9-4 in favor of the agreement.
The lease would allow Avports, part of Goldman Sachs, which has operated the airport for some time, to lease a portion of the airport for a $100 million expansion project. The project would add additional runway space and a brand-new terminal to expand the airport’s capacity and offer the residents of New Haven and surrounding areas an alternative to options in New York City or Bradley International in Windsor Locks.
But both the terminal and runway are planned for a section of the airport on the East Haven side and residents believe they are being shut out of the discussions. East Haven members of the Airport Authority, as well as the city’s mayor Joseph Canfora, expressed concerns over the impact the proposed expansion would have on their community.
“It does not take an expert to see that there is not a shared burden here,” said the mayor. “East Haven takes it on the chin while we will inherit all the traffic, the transient population, parking headaches, ecological strip-mining, noise pollution burden, on our already taxed public safety departments that will come into this project. While at the same time giving New Haven most of the economic benefit.”
Mayor Canfora said during the meeting that he believed meetings and engagement on the matter were limited due to COVID-19 protocols. He also said that East Haven had hired counsel and would be looking into these issues. Authority Executive Director Sean Scanlon said they would continue to work with East Haven.
East Haven community members also spoke during the meeting, agreeing with the mayor’s concerns and accusing the Airport Authority of ignoring those issues. Residents whose homes are close to the planned expansion are worried their property values will take a hit due to increased airport noise and environmental factors.
Approval of the lease, however, is not the final hurdle for the project. An environmental assessment was expected to be delivered to the Federal Aviation Administration at the end of July, but opponents of the project, as well as environmental advocates, have urged the FAA to put the project through the more rigorous Environmental Impact Statement process.
Avports does plan to spend around $5 million in an effort to mitigate the effects of additional noise pollution and environmental concerns, but residents don’t seem to believe those mitigation efforts will be enough to justify the impact the expansion will have on them.