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Picozzi: ‘New Dialog’ on RIAC Cargo Facility Project

Warwick City Hall

[CREDIT: Rob Borklowski] Warwick City Hall
WARWICK, RI — Mayor Frank Picozzi reports a Jan. 19 meeting with airport President Iftikhar Ahmad, RIAC Chairman Jon Savage, and House Speaker Joe Shekarchi about the South Cargo Facility Project has begun a “new dialog,” among airport and city officials.

The meeting, organized by Gov. Dan McKee, “Started a new dialogue between the parties and we’ve found a path forward, “said Mayor Frank Picozzi.

Picozzi reports the Airport Corporation has agreed to request that the FAA authorize RIAC to proceed with the rotary under the current South Cargo Environmental assessment which will provide direct access to the Airport Connector for the cargo facility’s traffic.

The parties have also agreed to meetings between the Mayor, the President, and the Chairman in addition to the monthly meetings by the senior staff. RIAC will facilitate a meeting with the City with major tenants of the air cargo facility to attempt to lessen the impact of operations on the quality of life in the city.

“The Mayor thanks Governor McKee for his leadership in bringing all the parties together and ending a stalemate,” according to a statement from his office Thursday.

The stalemate’s resolution follows three years of argument during which Picozzi insisted on RIAC’s formal contract for the traffic and sound mitigations for TF Green Airport’s new cargo facility, a development the city cannot veto or control. According to Picozzi’s account, RIAC responded with refusals, token agreements without commitments, then cancelation of yearly $500,000 payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) before finally signing on to the traffic and sound mitigations.

While he initially reported the mitigations were acceptable during the Jan. 2 Warwick City Council meeting, Picozzi later reassessed his position, because the proposed agreement only specified tractor trailers, not other types of traffic like delivery trucks or box trucks, according to  Elizabeth Tufts, Picozzi’s media coordinator.

During the process, Picozzi said, he learned that the RIAC not only cannot cancel the payments because they are mandated by state law, but that RIAC has been under-paying the PILOT since 2005. So, he told the Warwick City Council, RIAC owes Warwick owes Warwick $4.5 million.

While the new dialog on the cargo facility has renewed Warwick-RIAC cooperation on mitigations, the PILOT program issue hasn’t been resolved.

“The Mayor is still researching and working on this,” said Tufts.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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