Select Board Members blast local airplane noise group, BOS Fair Skies
At the November 20th meeting of the Milton Select Board, Select Board members were unsparing in their criticism of BOS Fair Skies, a local airplane noise group in a follow-up discussion of the town’s well-attended airplane noise forum held on November 14th.
Referring to certain of the group’s information as incorrect and certain of its actions as irresponsible and divisive seeking “to just take pot shots at the Board,” Select Board members did not sugar coat their views on BOS Fair Skies.
Apparently headed by Cindy Christiansen, BOS Fair Skies held its own meeting on airplane issues at Cunningham Hall two nights before the town’s airplane forum. Christiansen is the town’s former representative to the Massport Community Advisory Committee (MCAC), an assembly of appointed representatives from towns and cities surrounding Logan airport. Christiansen resigned as MCAC representative following an investigation by town counsel into eavesdropping allegations against her. Christiansen’s resignation was accepted by the Select Board which also removed her from that role as well as from the town’s Airplane Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) and the Logan Community Advisory Committee for conduct inappropriate of a town appointee.
Among the topics discussed at the town airplane noise forum on November 14th was a submission of feedback by the town relative to a years-long aviation noise study being conducted by MIT scientists. Commissioned by Massport and the FAA, the study seeks to explore ways to reduce the impact of airplane noise over the communities surrounding Logan airport through potential changes to routes and procedures.
A principal point of contention of the POS Fair Skies group with the town’s submission has been a recommendation to test the potential relocation of a waypoint for runway 27 takeoffs which the group maintains will bring additional planes over the town. In addition, although the submission was made in connection with the MIT study which has had an iterative process of discussion, testing and feedback, the group maintained that the request would be taken as approval of the proposed change by the FAA. The group also maintained that the submission would be voted on in January by the MCAC and claimed that the town has not engaged in proper public discussion of the submissions. These and other criticisms were set forth in a letter that the group presented to the town. Many of these points were also set forth in a letter that the group subsequently submitted to the FAA.
At the Select Board’s meeting on November 20th, Select Board member Katie Conlon said of the claim that FAA would act on the submission “…the request was not for the FAA to test. The request was for the MIT study group to do the test. The information that’s in this letter saying that this will allow the FAA to test and implement and FAA decision to test and implement in the next paragraph, that’s just factually incorrect.”
Conlon went on to say of the group’s meeting on November 12th, where many of the criticisms were presented to the community “I want to say on the record, I thought it was irresponsible for the citizens’ group to schedule a meeting on airplane issues two nights before the town had a meeting scheduled, a long-standing meeting scheduled, because I think it created a lot of confusion.”
As to the group’s letters, Conlon stated “…[s]ome of the people who signed this particular petition, I think, were not fully informed as to what the issues are.” As to the BOS Fair Skies’ Group’s claim that the MCAC would hold a vote on the town’s submission in January, Conlon stated “…[t]here’s a reference in there to a meeting in January and a vote in January, and I think that was dispelled at the meeting on the 14th….But if anyone is still under the impression that it’s going to be a vote, at least on ours, and I think on any community’s block two recommendations in January, I think we’ve clarified that that is not the case.”
The Select Board did not accept the group’s request to withdraw/modify its support of the test of the runway 27 waypoint. To this point, Conlon said “I think we made our position clear that we may have a different opinion than a certain group of residents, a small but very vocal group of residents, but this has been asked and answered many times. Many members of this Board have met with members of the Boston Fair Skies group. At least one member of the Airplane Noise Advisory Committee has met with the Boston Fair Skies group. We’ve had emails from the Boston Fair Skies group. We have a difference of opinion. We believe their information is incorrect, so I don’t believe any correction is needed.”
The Select Board referred other items in the group’s petition to the town’s MCAC representative, Thomas Dougherty.
As to the group’s claim of the town’s lack of transparency, Select Board Chair, Michael Zullas, took particular exception stating “Transparency is probably the most important thing in our government. And I think everyone at this table takes transparency and the importance of open, transparent government very important. So when people make claims, particularly to the FAA, saying that Milton does not have a transparent government and that it’s not conducting open meetings and is not noticing open meetings, it seems to me that this Board, representing the town of Milton and the people in Milton, needs to object to that. Certainly people can have their opinions and make their opinions known, but when people say that there haven’t been public meetings and public input, all they need to do is look at the videos. All they need to do is look at the videos of meetings on June 12th and June 26th and September 25th when these things have been discussed.”
Select Board Member Richard Wells added “… I agree with you in that anyone who says we’re not being transparent and we’re not telling people, or we’re not telling the truth, is dead wrong.” Wells went on to state “…I get this differing opinions, but just because you differ in your opinion doesn’t mean we’re not being forthright, truthful. I take exception to those comments.“
Conlon followed Wells and said “…we need to not be divided by a small group of residents who were trying to just take pot shots at the Board. What we need is to be united in our approach to our federal delegation and to know that the long-term solution is in the United States Congress.”
She closed by stating “..we understand the concerns that people have. We share their concerns, we empathize with it, but we need to move forward productively. And some of the recent activities, some of the ads that have been appearing in the Milton Times, some of the letters to the editor, especially when they’re based on incorrect facts, are not helpful. Hopefully we can go forward in a helpful, productive manner.”
After Conlon’s statements, Select Board member Tony Farrington commented “well said.”