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North Adams Airport Commission Passes Managerial Duties to City
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
01:20PM / Wednesday, July 21, 2021
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — As of next month, the Airport Commission will no longer have a quorum so commissioners have voted to pass on some of their duties to city employees. 
 
"This may very well be our last regularly scheduled Airport Commission meeting where we have a quorum," Chairman Jeffrey Naughton said Tuesday afternoon. "... Until the mayor appoints other commissioners, we will not be able to vote on anything, but it is imperative that business continues. There are going to be bills and warrants that need to be approved and paid and management decisions that need to be made."
 
Naughton announced some months ago that he planned to leave the commission at the end of July. Another longtime member, Armand Boillat, left last month. This leaves Commissioners Marc Morandi and Dean Bullett, who were appointed by the mayor when he was first elected.
 
The City Council had approved a change in ordinance that would allow the appointment of representatives from communities bordering North Adams, as a way to increase the pool of potential commissioners. But language presented last week for a final reading did not contain an amendment requiring as least two commissioners with aeronautical background so its passage was postponed, delaying the mayor's ability to appoint. 
 
Administrative Officer Angie Ellison will take on airport manager duties until a new manager is hired and retired airport manager Bill Greenwald will post airport notices.
 
Pointing to Mass General Law, Morandi was concerned that having someone outside of the commission sign warrants was not legally solvent. Although the commission can't meet, he offered to sign off on warrants himself.
 
The commission voted to designate him as this point person.
 
In other businesses, the commission's search for a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) continues. The city was working through a proposal from Jamie Hildenbrandt, however, an agreement could not be reached
 
"We have had some discussions with him, and we were going through the numbers," Naughton said. "From a financial standpoint, it is just not going to work for him so that is that. At this point in time, I think we will continue to look at the situation."
 
An FBO is an organization granted permission by an airport to operate at the airport and provide aeronautical services.
 
The FBO is tied to the vacant airport manager position that the commission felt could be included in the FBO agreement. Now that the FBO agreement is a no-go, the commission will take another look at airport manager applications.
 
Morandi had agreed to review the applications with Ellison.
 
"We hoped the proposal would take care of that, but that was too good to be true," Morandi said.
 
He did indicate that he thought the city would have a hard time drawing applicants because the pay for the position was so low. The City Council had approved a salary this year of $12,000 for the part-time position, double what it had been.
 
Ellison did say airport user and former commissioner Trevor Gilman had submitted a proposal to take over "certain operational aspects" at the airport. She said it is not a true FBO proposal, but she would circulate it amongst the commissioners.
 
The commissioners tied up some loose ends on the updated Airport Rules Regulations and Minimum Operating Standards. They volleyed the majority of the questions off to Stantec, the airport's engineer, but made a few organizational changes within the document.
 
They hope to approve the document at their next meeting, whenever that will be.
 
"I know that several people have marked this up and we have been reviewing it and updating it," Naughton said. "I think it needs to be moved to the next meeting."
 
During open comment, the commission heard again from Gerrit Blauvelt about the draft master plan and some Open Meeting Law violation complaints he submitted.
 
Specifically, he wanted to know who was on the committee that helped draft the updated plan and if this process was public  
 
"I haven't found any information on that or if it was open to the public," he said. "So I want to find that out."
 
Ellison said she could provide the makeup of the committee but said Stantec was charged with actually facilitating the master plan process. Any public postings would have been its responsibility, and it would have a record of this.
 
The commission did vote to place the final draft on the city website.
 
"We want to stay as transparent as possible with the public so they can see what the FAA and MassDOT have provided so far for language," Morandi said.
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