Airport commission discusses U.S. National Guard, noise mitigation

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WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – A request from a city councilor regarding the US National Guard and an update on the noise mitigation plan were the two main highlights at last night’s Barnes Regional Airport Commission meeting.

The request of the committee was from ward 6 councilor Bill Onyski, who requested additional information about what regulations the airport has over the Guard, particularly when it came to chemicals on airport grounds. As for the noise mitigation updates, it was said that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said they would be allowing the testing of three individual homes, which was previously not being done due to the noise mitigation plan relying on maps and data.

“The question is ‘who is watching the guard’,” Onyski said at the meeting last night.

Onyski requested information on the “airport’s stance for what the Guard can have on grounds” and if there was an agreement in place regarding this. And although this may have been predominantly inspired by the recent water contamination in the city of perflourinated chemicals (PFCs)–a group of chemicals that are found in stain-resistant upholstry and firefighting foams, like the kind that was housed at Barnes for a period of time, among other sources–Onyski said that it extends beyond that.

Onyski was clear in saying that he did not expect an answer on it right away but wanted to make it public. Eric Billowitz, airport manager for Barnes, said that he would find an answer but his initial response spoke to where the Guard gets their orders from.

Billowitz said that if you “go all the way up the chain,” the airport’s upper echelon of authority is the FAA, which is under the Department of Transportation (DOT). Meanwhile, the Guard, according to Billowitz, has upper echelon authority from the Department of Defense (DOD). Billowitz suggested that because of this there may not be much in the way of regulations that can come from the airport on the Guard.

Regarding the noise mitigation program, Jane Verbeck from Wyle Acoustical Engineering reported that she and the FAA have been in communication over the testing of three homes on Cara Lane that were eligible for acquisition and demolition in the noise mitigation program.

Initially, the mapping and data within the program were used to determine a house’s eligibility for the acquisition or for sound mitigation, which includes adding central air conditioning and improved roofs, windows and doors to the homes.

According to Verbeck, the FAA gave her a “verbal agreement” to do individualized testing on the three homes to see if sound mitigation could be done rather than an acquisition of the homes. The particular homes in question were not specified by Verbeck and the homeowners have not yet been notified. However, Verbeck said that this is because until it is in writing, she does not want to notify the owners in the event it changes.Copyright 2017 The Westfield News

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