East Haven mayor says Tweed Airport expansion is a ‘burden’ he cannot bear

EAST HAVEN — Mayor Joseph Carfora took a tough stance against the proposed expansion of Tweed New Haven Airport on Wednesday night, likening what he called a “limited economic benefit” the city could see as a “burden” that he would bring.

In his State of the City address, Carfora said plans for the airport, which sits in both New Haven and East Haven, would create problems for the city – including “traffic, floods, the environment, public safety” – without providing much of a benefit.

“I’m quite sure that my decision will disappoint some and even create discord with some very influential people,” Carfora said. “That’s not my concern and if there’s one thing I’ve proven as your mayor and as the leader of this community, it’s that I’m not bashfully purple and I won’t back down. not in front of a difficult decision.”

The expansion, which will be funded by Tweed’s Goldman Sachs-owned operator Avports LLC, would include paving part of the airport’s runway safety areas to extend the usable length of the runway by 1,035ft. . It would also include building a new 74,000 square foot terminal on the East Haven side and relocating the airport entrance to the East Haven side of the airport.

“My concern is that the burden this terminal will bring to East Haven – traffic, flooding, environment, public safety, operating costs and capital necessities – is monumental and far outweighs any direct and limited economic benefit that East Haven will win,” Carfora said.

Carfora said the project may work for some from a business perspective, but he needs to look at it from a broader perspective. He said he attended meetings and briefings about the expansion, as did his administration and city departments.

He said New Haven and Yale could benefit from the economic effects of the airport expansion, but East Haven would receive no tax revenue and the project could have irreparable impacts on the community.

“Therefore I am announcing tonight that at this point I cannot support nor recommend to our City Council that we accept and support the expansion/relocation of the terminal to the East Haven side,” said said Carfora. “The burdens are too heavy and the current impact on our community is just too transformative.

“Those who benefit from it should shoulder more burdens, not just the city of East Haven,” he said.

Carfora’s statement was met with applause and cheers, including a standing ovation from some in the audience.

The airport’s neighbors have regularly raised concerns about the expansion, including many who say the additional flights hampered their quality of life and even damaged their homes.

Tweed New Haven Airport Authority executive director Sean Scanlon said in a statement Thursday that they plan to continue to work closely with Carfora to address its concerns as the project moves forward.

“Since the time we first announced our intention to develop Tweed New Haven Airport in May of last year, we have focused on growing jobs while providing Southern Connecticut residents with more direct flights to more destinations,” Scanlon wrote, citing hundreds. new jobs and 13 non-stop flights to new destinations.

Scanlon said these accomplishments could not have been achieved without extensive work with Carfora and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.

“New Haven and East Haven have been at the table every step of the way and always will be,” Scanlon wrote. “This combined partnership has already resulted in a commitment of $5 million for direct community benefits, and we will remain committed to working with the Mayor and residents of East Haven to address issues as they arise. »

Elicker on Thursday called the project a work in progress and said Carfora’s concerns should be addressed just like New Haven’s, before adding that residents of both municipalities are already enjoying the benefits of travel to leisure destinations and business.

“He and I are both deeply involved in the future of Tweed and I believe that through continued dialogue we will see our way back and demonstrate the value both to the region and to East Haven in particular,” said Elicker said.

Elicker said union construction jobs, long-term employment and economic development potential will benefit both municipalities.

“I look forward to working with all parties – Avelo, the Airport Authority and East Haven City officials, and residents of both communities – and I remain committed to working with them moving forward. ‘in a way that addresses concerns and enables a better future for both municipalities and the region as a whole,’ Elicker said.

Avports CEO Jorge Roberts said the company remains committed to the airport and ongoing development which has led to increased jobs and flights.

“I have personally had many productive meetings and conversations with Mayor Carfora, and I am committed to continuing this strong relationship to address East Haven’s concerns and continue to move this transformative project forward,” Roberts said.

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