Airport Hearing on Expansion Set for Tuesday
FITCHBURG -- Surrounded by the Nashua River and Baker Brook, Fitchburg Municipal Airport’s proposed expansion is the subject of a Tuesday public meeting of the Conservation Commission.
“The airport has been working with Fitchburg and Leominster conservation commissions,” said Airport Manager Scott Ellis. “We’re very attentive of the fact that there’s a lot of natural areas nearby.”
Approval from the Conservation Commission is another step in the project to elongate the airport’s main runway in order to accommodate the bulk of corporate air travel.
The Nashua River and Baker Brook flow around the airport to the north, south and west, according to a notice of intent filed with the city.
Plans for the project include reconstructing one of two airport runways to lengthen it from just over 4,500 feet to 5,000 feet.
Many insurance companies that cover corporate air travel require landing strips of at least 5,000 feet.
The project is expected to cost $11 million and take about six months to complete, according to Ellis. It also includes the removal of the smaller runway that bisects the main strip.
Between 90 percent and 100 percent of funding for the reconstruction will be provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to Ellis.
If the FAA pays for 90 percent of the project, the state will contribute about $500,000 and the local share would be about the same, according to Ellis.
The airport would bond that amount from the city and repay the municipality over 20 years, he said.
Ellis said the reconstruction project will have a positive environmental impact.
While the reconstructed runway will be longer than it is today, it will be thinner, resulting in an overall reduction of 43,330 square feet of paved area at the airport, according to the intent notice.
That document also noted the “unavoidable” loss of nearly 2,000 square feet of wetlands associated with the runway reconstruction.
The public hearing begins 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Fitchburg Municipal Airport’s Administration Building.