Thomas Glynn, executive director of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) that oversees Logan International Airport, came to Winthrop for a meeting with town officials and local organizations Tuesday at the Robert A. DeLeo Senior Center.
Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo, who sponsored the luncheon, said his goal was to open a dialogue between Massport and the town and “build a relationship” with Glynn.
Town Manager James McKenna, Assistant to the Town Manager Joseph Domelowicz Jr., Town Council President Peter Gill, Fire Chief Paul Flanagan, and Police Chief Terence Delehanty led the large delegation of officials and residents in attendance.
DeLeo recalled that when Glynn was appointed in November he called his office “because I represented some of the most affected communities (Winthrop and Revere) by the airport.”
“The fact that he reached out to me and Sen. Anthony Petrucelli on that day indicated to me that we’re starting off with an individual that wants to hear our concerns and hear what it’s like to be an affected community as an abutter of Logan Airport,” said DeLeo.
Glynn, the former general manager of the MBTA, posed the question early in his speech, “Can Massport be a good neighbor?”
“I know over the years we’ve had our ups and downs,” said Glynn. “We had some good progress and I was meeting recently with the FAA and his deputy said, ‘You guys at Massport have had a history of pushing an envelope with the FAA and getting us to think about things that we had never thought about before.”
Glynn said one of those things was the soundproofing program that was done in the 1980s.
“In the beginning the FAA said the soundproofing shouldn’t be done, but you folks in East Boston and Winthrop were the pilot communities, and it’s now required as far as what the federal responsibilities are for airports,” said Glynn.
Glynn said it was in everyone’s best interests to hear each other’s point of view and come up with a strategy and creative approach that makes sense to both sides. He cited such issues for discussion as the impact of noise and air quality on the town. He noted the $4.5 billion that was spent on rebuilding and modernizing the airport.
“I think the airport now runs extremely well and we should be all proud of it as an airport – now what are next things we should be tackling from an airport point of view, a port point of view, and a real state point of view,” said Glynn. We want to work with our elected representatives and our community representatives to try to sort out what our priorities should be going forward.”
Glynn thanked DeLeo for hosting the event, saying that he and Massport officials were present at the luncheon to start a dialogue with the people of Winthrop. He then opened the forum to questions.
McKenna asked Glynn for an update on the health and assessment study pertaining to Logan Airport’s environmental impact on the health of Winthrop residents.
DeLeo fielded that question from the town manager. “We expect in a relatively short period of time we’re going to have the initial results of the survey and the findings of the Department of Public Health,” responded DeLeo.
Delehanty asked if Massport would provide technical expertise in interpreting the results of the study and whether outside agencies would fund that analysis.
DeLeo also took the lead of that questioning, saying that he will launch a citizens advisory group made up of residents that are affected by Logan Airport. DeLeo said the new committee would be patterned after the WWRA citizens advisory group. In direct response to Delehanty’s question, DeLeo said that the airport citizens advisory group would be in the position to hire someone to provide the professional expertise and analyze the results of the health assessment study.
Anthony Majahad, chairman of the Air Pollution, Noise of Airport Hazards Committee, asked if Massport had considering a sound impact study, a project that he said hadn’t been undertaken since the 1980s.
“I think it’s something the communities all around the airport would really appreciate and it may have something to do with increasing the values of their houses,” said Majahad.
Glynn seemed to embrace the suggestion, saying a sound study “would be helpful to everybody in providing a benchmark again.”
DeLeo thanked Glynn and the many town officials and residents for their attendance.
“This is a very important issue for the folks from Winthrop,” said DeLeo. “When a major airport exists so close to the town, I’m concerned about the effects that can have on our community. That’s what this forum was all about – to begin the dialogue [with Massport].”
DeLeo said afterwards that he was pleased with the results of the luncheon meeting, calling it an excellent step toward building a relationship with Massport and hearing people’s concerns about what it means to have an airport so close to Winthrop.