|North Adams Airport Commission Grounds Business Proposals|
|By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff|
10:43AM / Wednesday, February 28, 2018
|The Airport Commission stated it would not honor any new leases at this time, leaving the new owner of a flight business hanging. |
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Airport Commission agreed to take no action on all business proposals or leases until the lease and rental system have been revamped.
"We hope to be able to do this in March and there have been a number of people who have come forward and have expressed interest in the hangars and office space," Chairman Paul Boillat said at Tuesday's meeting. "We need to thoroughly review everyone's proposal."
Some months ago, airport users brought forth inconsistencies in the lease agreements to the commission. Since then, the city has hired a law firm to standardize all the leases at Harriman West Airport.
Administrative Assistant Michael Canales said once these regulations are redone, they will be handed out to the commissioners, tenants and potential tenants for input.
The commission has two new members appointed this month — Dean Bullett and Marc Morandi — and Boillatt said he would like time to get everyone up to speed.
"We hope to have that by March, but we are not ready to commit to that either, so we will continue to put the proposals that we received on the agenda until a decision is made," he said.
This didn't sit well with flight school operator Alex Kelly, who said he has been seeking permission to operate an aviation business at the airport for the past three and a half months.
"I have been given the runaround from day one here. I am a businessman and I have spent a lot of money here. I have lost a lot of money here already," he said. "I have no agenda. I just want to operate a business."
Kelly reiterated accusations against former Commissioner Trevor Gilman, who he felt attempted to block his ultimate purchase of TeamFlys, with which Gilman volunteered.
Gilman was removed from the commission after an investigation began into irregularities in the fuel account.
"It is insane what has happened here, and I don't understand how it got to this point," he said.
Much of Kelly's statements were also present in a post he made on social media months ago directly calling out Gilman, airport manager Bill Greenwald and mechanic John Werner, who he said wrongly performed aircraft maintenance.
The post lead to a firestorm of comments with some defending Kelly's claims while others railed against the flight school owner.
Some accused Kelly of sexual misconduct.
Although wrongdoing on Gilman's part is still under investigation, the later accusation of Kelly appears to be true.
Kelly was convicted in 1997 of raping two teenage girls in 1986 in Connecticut. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison but was released after 10 years on good behavior in 2007.
He has since operated aviation businesses in Connecticut and in Bennington, Vt. However, with planned construction at the Bennington airport, he set his sights on North Adams.
Kelly's past conviction was not mentioned at the meeting, but Kelly did ask the commission if there was a reason they seemed to be stalling.
"I don't understand why a town would do everything they can to run a businessman out who is trying to bring a bunch of money here," he said. "I am coming to you with honesty and respect so let's just be honest what is the deal? Do you want business here or not?
"Obviously there is something going on here that I don't understand. I have the right to understand what is going on."
The commissioners only reaffirmed that they would take up the proposal at a future meeting.
Kelly added that the commission has no right to discriminate against any aviation-related business an FAA-obligated airport
"It is against the law ... I don't have time to wait any longer I need a letter of permission," he said. "I need it on record in writing that you are not going to give it to me. I need something to go to the next level."
Kelly flat out asked if he would be given permission to operate his school before the end of Tuesday's meeting. Boillet said no.
Canales recommended that if Kelly was finished with his comments that the commission adjourn.
Werner, the mechanic Kelly accused of improperly repairing an aircraft, was last to speak during the last calls for open forum.
Werner said his work was consistent with the aircraft's manual and that the FAA had no issue with his actions.