NOVEMBER 3, 2000
One day after Connecticut airline Shuttle America Inc. started commercial air service to New York from Hanscom Field, local activists and officials went to court yesterday to try to stop the controversial flights.
Citizens and historic preservation groups, along with the towns of Lexington, Concord, and Lincoln, asked a federal court yesterday to overturn a Federal Aviation Administration ruling. The action, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston, says the FAA violated the National Historic Preservation Act by not properly reviewing the potential impact of additional Hanscom flights on historic and environmental sites in the area.
"There is a law in this country to protect historic places, and the FAA has violated it," Anna Winter, the executive director of Save Our Heritage, said at a press conference yesterday at Lexington Green. Winter, dressed in Revolutionary-era costume, was joined by nearly 100 other residents and officials.
The appeal says the FAA's approval of the La Guardia flights is "the latest in a pattern" of approvals for commercial air service at Hanscom without consideration of the impact on surrounding sites.
Hanscom opponents want the FAA to conduct a detailed review of the impact of more traffic, noise and pollution on Minute Man National Park, the Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge, Walden Woods and other sites. They're also seeking to block the flights pending appeal. The FAA has said its own analysis found the new flights would not hurt historic sites.
FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said the agency's policy is not to comment on pending litigation.
Shuttle America Vice President Mark Cestari noted the action was taken against the FAA and not the Connecticut airline. But, he added, the airline's attorneys are monitoring legal proceedings. "It does not appear that there are any areas presented today that reflect new information," Cestari said. "However, Shuttle America stands ready to defend our right to provide the Hanscom to La Guardia flights."
On Wednesday, Shuttle America started five daily round-trip flights between New York and Hanscom Field, which straddles Bedford, Lexington, Concord, and Lincoln. Yesterday, Cestari said business is booming. "If there's a silver lining to all this acrimony, it's that it does not appear to be hurting business," he said.
Local activists, however, said they have watched flights at Hanscom Field steadily increase in recent years, and worry that the Shuttle America flights could open a Pandora's box. "We're already up to 600 take-offs and landings a day," said Kay Tiffany. "And this opens the door to endless others."
Source: Boston Herald