RIAC to create strategic master plan for general aviation airports

WARWICK – The R.I. Airport Corp. announced Friday that it will be undertaking a strategic business and master planning process for all five general aviation airports in Rhode Island.

The airports include Block Island State Airport, Newport State Airport, North Central State Airport, Quonset State Airport and Westerly State Airport.

The plan process is expected to take years. It will include the creation of a 10-year facilities plan, a 10-year airfield plan and a 10-year business plan, and will include an internal task force comprised of experts in infrastructure, planning, finance, legal and property management, according to RIAC. The corporation also will utilize consultants.

RIAC said that it will reach out to town managers and local officials in the municipalities that include an airport and plans on creating local committees that are inclusive and representative of stakeholders such as local leaders, neighbors, airport tenants, business owners, tourism officials, members of the General Assembly and the general aviation community.

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“RIAC can support these conversations and produce reliable data and evaluation points for local officials to consider, but we cannot do it alone” said Iftikhar Ahmad, president and CEO of RIAC, in prepared remarks. “Any and all opportunities for development will need the support of local zoning and planning ordinances, and the support of the community.”

The 10-year facilities plan includes evaluation of building conditions and priorities, focusing on the identification of scope, budget, schedule and possible revenue sources at each airport. The plan also will consider the effect of upgraded facilities on current tenants.

The 10-year airfield plan portion of the plan will evaluate and adopt a pavement management schedule for the five airports.

The 10-year business plan will evaluate economic development conditions and opportunities at all five airports and identify all available properties that can be developed for shovel-ready projects, RIAC said.

“The strategic master plan once adopted will provide a predictable and equitable roadmap for all stakeholders,” said Ahmad. “It is simply good public policy to evaluate this situation thoughtfully and holistically.”

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor. Email him at Bergenheim@PBN.com.