Steven N. Zieff of Eden Management Inc. presented a summary of the activities that have taken place since he was brought on board when spring town meeting voters approved $25,000 for the services.
Mr. Zieff described the Worcester Regional Airport as a “diamond in the rough,” noting that the facility, owned and operated by the Massachusetts Port Authority, is physically competitive with other Class B airports and well-situated to provide a range of aviation services.
However, he said that the trend in businesses and airports is to “grow or die,” and he feels that the regional airport needs to maximize its potential. Mr. Zieff presented a comparison chart showing trends in passenger and freight numbers at several New England airports.
He recommended that officials revisit a 2011 Mobility Study done by the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission.
Mr. Zieff explained that the study did not include the full range of possible transportation improvements because Leicester was not included in the report. He said that the airport and Leicester’s “vibrancy” would reap benefits through broadening the 2011 study.
“Working with Massport, adjacent communities and Kevin (Mizikar, Leicester’s town administrator), Eden Management Inc. believes we can accomplish a land use/infrastructure plan and execution that will significantly reward the community, the region and Massport,” Mr. Zieff concluded.
Mr. Mizikar said the “new look” at the study would be based on the “trajectory of the airport and also Leicester’s willingness to re-explore infrastructure and road improvements to help access the airport.”
The town administrator said it’s premature to discuss cost, but that the town would work regionally to determine how any projects would be funded.
“Growth at the airport is going to occur one way or another,” Mr. Mizikar said. “If Leicester takes an engaged leading role in how that happens, we can benefit economically and work to mitigate potentially negative impacts on air and ground traffic.”
At town meeting, residents expressed concern about the wear and tear on Leicester roadways from vehicles accessing the airport and/or bringing in fill and other materials for facility improvements.
“The point of a consultant is to have a professional at the table to negotiate with Massport in order to mitigate the negatives you are talking about,” Selectman Douglas Belanger said at the time.