DOVER — Residents and town officials filled the Hermitage Inn for an informational presentation on the Deerfield Valley Airport, focusing on present and future plans for the newly acquired property.
Air travel from potential destinations includes Teterboro, N.J., Long Island, N.Y., Westchester, N.Y., Hartford, Conn. and Westerly, R.I., all of which would be flights under 45 minutes.
“It really opens up the opportunity for mid-week golf outings and other events happening here,” said Hermitage Founder and President Jim Barnes. “It’s an opportunity for the (Deerfield) Valley … What we have here is a really powerful differentiator.”
On July 22, Barnes explained that the airport would give travelers the option to fly into the area as opposed to other competing locations. The Hermitage Realty Holding Company purchased the previously-named Mount Snow Airport about a month ago. Barnes emphasized that this is positive for businesses in the valley as well as Mount Snow.
A small airport in Danielson, Conn., was used as an example of having a strong economic impact on a rural area; $2.56 million, said Barnes.
There would be direct, indirect and induced economic impacts, Barnes showed on a slide. The direct included on-airport spending for employment, operations, fuel and maintenance and capital projects, while the indirect included hotels, rental cars and locally produced goods and services. The induced represented the general sum of both economic impacts.
The airport is located on Airport Road, just past the Mount Snow Golf Course. In the past 30 days, the runway was extended to 2,600 feet, repaved and re-painted, and development on the property has begun.
“It was deteriorated and loose. There were potholes,” said Barnes. “It was unsafe to take off.”
The presentation stated that the property now has new wind socks that were installed by the terminal building. The existing lighting system was upgraded with new bulbs and fixtures and a conduit was installed under the new pavement to “eventually feed the new lighting system.”
“This is essential for pilots to land at night or in low light situations,” Barnes said.
The terminal building was also renovated with new phones and computer systems.
A truck will supply jet fuel on demand, which will provide a job for someone local.
Barnes also made it clear that the airport will have a beneficial impact on the local economy in general, not just for the Hermitage Club.
“In the last four months, we had four of our new members buy real estate off the property,” he said. “All from other real estate companies … (People) want to buy not just from this estate but the whole Vermont experience. It’s not just our real estate … It’s everyone’s.”
There are three phases for developing the property for maximum safety. The first phase, completed on Saturday, included re-paving and returning the property to an “object free zone,” repairing the hangars and lights, as well as setting up a GPS approach system.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires safety clear zones and projected clearways for safety in the event of an emergency during or after take-off,” Barnes mentioned. “The Deerfield Valley Airport now has this added safety.”
The second phase will extend the runway to 4,440 feet, which a previous owner, Bob North, had in mind when he obtained a permit to develop the land back in 1988. As part of this next phase, Barnes said a new hangar will be constructed and new technology added for aircrafts approaching the airport.
The third and final phase will extend the runway to 5,000 feet. Barnes explained that one of the goals is to enclose the runway with gates, so no vehicles can access it unless cleared through the Hermitage Club.
He said there would be a maximum of 12 flights a day. For now, the Hermitage Club expects one to two flights a day. Landing and taking off must first be registered with the Hermitage Club.
“We’re expecting non-Hermitage Club related planes to use the airport, generating additional economic impacts,” Barnes added. “We now have an entrance ramp for (people) to get here.”
Noise levels were a concern among residents. Property owners from Country Club Road, which is between Route 100 and the Deerfield Valley Airport, requested that the Hermitage Club consider strict guidelines.
Barnes said he does not foresee “a lot of flying at night.”
“We’d like to keep it reasonable from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and encourage daytime flying,” said Barnes. He added that pilots must register before using the airport, so the Hermitage Club would be able to better manage use of the airport than it had been in past years.
On July 23, Barnes announced that the Hermitage Club had entered into an agreement with Tradewind Aviation, which is a company that provides eight seat passenger jet flights. It has charters out of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard on Cape Cod to Teterboro, N.J., and Westchester, N.Y.
Barnes said he expects scheduled flights through Tradewind Aviation out of the Deerfield Valley Airport to begin in December.