What’s Next for Hanscom’s North Airfield? Prospective Bidders Pepper Massport with Questions

Work to facilitate construction of a major aviation facility on Hanscom Field near Hartwell Road could begin in a few months.

According to the Massachusetts Port Authority, installation of an “interim roadway” providing access to the 29-acre site is anticipated early next year.

That estimate was provided by Massport in answer to one of 40 questions submitted by prospective bidders for the project, which has all of the components of a fixed-base operator. A request for proposal was unveiled at the end of August; bids are due by Dec. 9.

The request lists permitted uses as including “the selling of fuel to aeronautic public, storage, servicing, maintenance of aviation aircraft, general office use for aviation-related communications, operations, support, training, and administrative functions, and tenant employee areas.”

Massport said a decision on the contractor is expected early next year but is not required, and it “reserves the right to accept or reject any or all proposals.”

The questions and answers provide a window into the concerns of bidders and the expectations of the port authority.

One contractor asked, “Are there any existing or upcoming plans to transfer business aviation activity from Boston Logan International Airport?” Massport replied: “Hanscom is an independent airport from Logan Airport, although recognized by the FAA as a GA (general aviation) reliever for Logan Airport.”

A similar question was: “Is there any available business aviation traffic forecast for L.G. Hanscom Field?” Massport referenced the 2017 Environmental Status and Planning Report (ESPR) and other Hanscom reports.

Asked if the proposal is “strictly for aeronautical use,” the Massport response said “aviation-compatible land uses are those uses that can coexist with an airport without constraining the safe and efficient operation of the airport. Any development must be consistent with Hanscom’s role as a general aviation facility.”

In answer to a request for “the full and complete list of required building permits and authorizations,” Massport wrote, “The successful proposer must secure for environmental review/approvals at a minimum from MEPA, NEPA, MA Wetlands Protection Act, and MA Endangered Species Act. “

Approvals are followed by a tenant alteration agreement by the Massport Capital Programs Department, followed by a state building permit, and a state plumbing permit. The only local permitting, according to the answer, is for electrical work. Massport projects are exempt from local zoning and building requirements.

Frontage on Hartwell Road is owned by Massport. “It is assumed that the successful proposer(s) will utilize an existing curb cut. This work should be coordinated with the Town of Bedford but no permit is required.”

Massport also noted, “For the purposes of this proposal, the proposers should assume that
water will be acquired from the Town of Bedford and the connection will be subject to the town’s policies and procedures.” Sewage disposal would be through the Hanscom Air Force Base infrastructure; the project will require a pump station and force main.

Several prospective bidders were interested in details on the ongoing environmental cleanup activities around the runway area. Massport pointed out that these efforts are the responsibility of the Air Force.

One bidder was interested in frequency of snowy conditions and de-icing operations, and the equipment available. Massport said the airfield “has snow removal equipment to meet the 30-minute clearance time for commercial service airports. Hanscom Field has a nationally recognized, award-winning snow removal program.”

Other questioners were directed to the ESPR, which does not mention or imply the need for an additional FBO. Three FBOs already service Hanscom: Jet Aviation and Signature Aviation, accessible from Hanscom Drive in Lincoln, and Rectrix Aviation on Virginia Road in Concord.

Tuesday evening the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission met virtually, and during the citizens’ comments portion resident Jennifer Boles said she was raising issues for what is likely to be the final time before the bidding period closes.

Boles, who has said the facility will compromise the quality of life for nearby residential areas, said part of the area designated for development serves as a natural buffer to airport noise. The land hosted dozens of mobile homes for Air Force personnel between 1961 and 2009. Now it is “a beautiful wooded area,” and Boles lamented that “it seems like it’s going to be leveled.”

She pointed out that around Logan International Airport, “Massport has set aside millions of dollars for airfield buffer parks.” She said it would cost Massport nothing to just allow the natural area to remain.

Boles also said disturbance of “crystalline bedrock” on the site will jeopardize groundwater, according to earlier environmental studies. The bedrock serves as a barrier to the flow of contaminated water from the airfield, she said.

“I wish this stuff had been considered earlier,” Boles commented.

HFAC Chair Christopher Eliot of Lincoln said that during permitting processes for the new project, there will be opportunities for public comment.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763

1 Comment

  1. MassPort says they have great snow removal but didn’t answer the question re de-icing – the stuff that contaminated the Shawsheen River watershed. They should cease all contaminants, including leaded gas.

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