At a Sept. 11 Westerly Town Council meeting, Town Manager Derrik Kennedy advised the Town Council that he and Lisa Pellegrini, the Westerly director of development services, had met with representatives of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
Kennedy reported that the airport corporation planned to shorten one of the runways at the Westerly State Airport. He also claimed that the shortened runway “would not impact New England Airlines” and “the local community pilot group is OK with the shortened thresholds.”
Kennedy further stated that the Westerly Airport’s 4,000-foot runways can accommodate only small-to-mid-sized jets — not exceeding six to eight people.
Based on Kennedy’s representations, Westerly Town Council Vice President Mario Celico called for a special meeting to be scheduled with the airport corporation to engage in a full discussion about the town manager’s report and to allow for comments from the public.
What is now obvious, after two Westerly Town Council meetings, on Oct. 26 and 28, is that Kennedy’s representations to the Town Council were erroneous.
According to Sue Cowley, chief pilot at New England Airlines, shorter runways pose a “safety margin problem” and would result in a loss of revenue by not having approaches available at night.
Kevin Allen, manager of Dooney Aviation Inc., stated that a shortened runway could put Dooney out of business. Eric Thunberg, speaking on behalf of the Westerly Airport Association, unequivocally stated that shortened runways would reduce safety.
Finally, a 24 passenger jet airplane has landed at the Westerly airport at least four times this year and has been doing so for years. It is undisputed that the Westerly airport’s 4,000-foot runways can accommodate far larger planes than only small-to-midsized jets not exceeding six to eight people.
I am not surprised Kennedy has misled the public once again. What I do find astonishing is that there are people in Westerly who are still fooled by Kennedy’s charade of competence.
Robert L. Lombardo