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North Adams Airport Commission Delays Hangar Decision
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
06:24PM / Thursday, May 24, 2018
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Bennington, Vt., man who has been pushing to open his aviation and skydiving business, was approved last week to lease office space at Harriman and West Airport.
 
The Airport Commission voted Tuesday, May 15, to grant Alex Kelly permission to use office space in the city's hangar until June 30. But it delayed a vote to allow permanent use of space in the recently renovated hangar to solicit more information from potential occupants. 
 
Kelly said he felt he was still being given the runaround.
 
"It is an obstruction and discriminatory," he said. "I need resolution one way or the other. I am constantly spending time, money and effort and it is delayed another month ... it is just not fair now."
 
Kelly came before the commission late last year asking for permission to operate his business, which he was moving from Bennington's William H. Morse State Airport because of construction there. Although this permission was ultimately given in March, the commission delayed its vote on other space uses because the city was in the process of standardizing leasing contracts. Those were also approved Tuesday. 
 
Kelly reiterated that he felt the commission was drawing out the process on purpose and said he has been trying to work with the commissioners for six months now.
 
"I don't assume to know what is going on, but an objective view would say this does not pass the smell test to keep dragging this on anymore," he said. "I am sick of being the guy that is whining."
 
Chairman Jeff Naughton gave his reasons for delaying the vote and said while he was away from the commission on medical leave, he was sent an inquiry about the space. He added that the other potential occupant could not attend Tuesday's meeting.
 
Kelly said if the commission did not intend to decide Tuesday it should have let him know and he wouldn't have bothered coming. 
 
He added that if the other applicants were serious about the space, they should have submitted something more substantial or sent a representative.
 
"If the parties knew that they could not be here they had every opportunity to at least submit something in writing," he said. "If you want to be a credible player you have to show your best."
 
Kelly added that he already has permission from the airport to operate and had run a similar successful business in Bennington.
 
"I am ready to hit the ground running," he said. "I have numerous planes and am ready to operate ... I am going to bring quite a bit of business to this airport despite all of the noise."
 
Kelly pointed to submittals from one of the other applicants and noted their proposal was only a few sentences while his was a few pages.
 
Commissioner Dean Bullett agreed that Kelly's proposal was more thorough, however, said he wanted more information from all of the applicants, Kelly included.
 
"I would like to see more in this proposal," Bullet said. "I was just expecting more about the purpose of the office and what do you see happening there. I just want to know more about it." 
 
After the commission voted to allow Kelly the use of the space until June 30, he said he was happy for any movement whatsoever.
 
Kelly said the room would suffice as is but it is in need of work. He added that if he was awarded the office space he would make improvements to it as well as maintain the public bathrooms.
 
Kelly asked for more information on how the commissioners will rate the applications and if the commission planned to close off the application process and only take information from the three mentioned at the meeting.
 
Naughton said they are only dealing with the three applicants at this point and will stop accepting information from them by the end of the month. He promised a decision would be made next meeting.
 
Kelly said he was still excited to operate in North Adams and would be more willing to work with the commissioners if they were more open and willing to work with him.
 
"I am optimistic and really excited about this, but I am concerned," he said. "There is a lot of noise, but I think people will realize that I am just a service and asset. I am not a deterrent. I just want to fly planes." 
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