Residents to weigh in on T.F. Green expansion

Providence, R.I. – Residents in Warwick get a chance Tuesday to weigh in on the controversial proposal to expand T.F. Green Airport.

A capacity crowd of up to 600 people is expected at the public hearing at the Community College of Rhode Island Knight campus in Warwick. The focus will be on an FAA environmental impact statement on potential effects of an expansion plan that impacts parking, runways and roads at T.F Green.

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian says the more than decade-long issue is triggering different reactions from residents who feel the proposal places the future of their properties in question.

"You have people who want to do whatever they can to stay," Avedisian says. "You have another group of people who are saying, 'We're tired, so give us an answer as to whether or not this is actually going to impact us. Am I going to be acquired? When is it going to happen and when can I move on?'"

Avedisian says city officials are most concerned about air and water quality, noise issues and the effect land acquisitions could have on city tax revenue.

Supporters of the proposed expansion say it will make the airport more competitive and help boost the state economy.

The plan calls to add 1,600 feet to the airport's main runway. That would allow long distance carriers to use the airport. Currently, weight restrictions make T.F. Green suitable for only short and medium distances.

Rhode Island Airport Corporation President Kevin Dillon says the airport is losing a lot of business because of the too-short runway.

"LA, for example, is always in our top five cities that people are looking to fly to," Dillon says. "Today, you simply can't fly non-stop to LA."

The airport expansion would pave the way for the purchase of 107 homes.