For the second night in a row, shoreline residents expressed their anger over expansion plans at Tweed-New Haven Airport, which they say pose problems surrounding safety and quality of life.
Just minutes into a meeting with New Haven officials at Nathan Hale School near the airport, residents from East Haven and New Haven’s East Shore grew frustrated with the responses they were hearing.
"You guys are liars and you are not being honest with us," said Lori Foster, a resident of New Haven who lives close to the airport.
Some residents are worried about plans to pave and extend safety areas around the existing runway, a requirement if the airport wants to increase the number of daily commercial flights from four to 12 per day.
"With the increase, it’s going to get a lot louder. The jets are going to get much bigger," said Anthony Deponte, an East Haven resident who has concerns about more noise, additional air pollution and too much traffic on neighborhood streets.
City officials came to Thursday’s meeting with engineers and transportation and public health experts to attempt to show that the airport has greater potential if it grows. Plans to pave and extend the runway safety areas would allow for commercial flights to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Orlando.
"That’s really what we’re trying to do" make it worth living next to the airport," said New Haven Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson. "We want to tell everybody what we’re doing and we’re willing to get yelled at occasionally."
But what city leaders may see as progress, some residents view as a major mistake.
"You don’t just build an airport in the middle of a neighborhood and just keep expanding and expanding, because it affects the people that live there," said East Haven resident Michael Dabbraccio.
The city and Tweed agreed not to pave the runway safety areas in 2009. Many residents wonder why that appears to be changing now.
"I knew when they signed that agreement that in a few years they would chip away at it. And they chip and chip and chip until they get what they want," said Dabbraccio.
East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo released the following statement in response to Thursday night's meeting:
"The City of New Haven, in conjunction with state and federal legislators, have begun more actively discussing the future of Tweed Airport. However, there are still many questions that remain unanswered. Moving ahead, I am committed to ensuring that our residents’ concerns and voices will be heard and that all of our questions will be answered. Until those questions are answered to the satisfaction of my constituents, I will continue to stand opposed to any expansion of Tweed and will continue to fight to protect the interests of our residents."
Despite opposition among some residents, the city and airport remain confident that the changes to the property and flights will happen in the next two to five years.