Winthrop AIR: The organization
Winthrop AIR had its beginning in early 1999. The original goal of AIR was to provide a citizen forum for dealing with issues related to Logan Airport. Interestingly, the name "AIR" was coined to be an acronym for "Airport Issues Resolution". This turned out to be a wise decision, because of the increasing focus on the air we breathe, and how it affects our quality of life. Impetus to the development of AIR occurred when MassPort announced plans to build runway 14/32, add a new taxi way, and lower flight abort angles.
AIR as an organization was carefully constructed. An Organizational Framework document was created, describing the functions of several committees and the means of coordination. Rapidly, the committees were defined as:
A set of common goals and operating principles were defined, by which all the committees would operate. Basically, AIR was designed to be a pure grassroots, bottoms-up, democratic organization. Any affiliation with "official" Town organizations would be on a partnership basis, with AIR providing the equivalent of staff work to Town officials, when appropriate. Each committee would also be autonomous, pursuing its own agenda, and supporting the other committees when useful. A coordination mechanism was defined to gain maximum synergy across the committees. An example: The Government Affairs Committee would be researching political positions on high-speed rail directions, the Public Affairs Committee would be organizing a large public demonstration, and the Environment-Health Committee would be researching causes of respiratory disease in Winthrop. (This actually happened.)
Some of the Common Goals, pertinent to all Committees, are:
Key strategic goals were established in early January, 1999 when the major goals of the AIR organization were defined and accepted as:
The transportation problem, as viewed by AIR, transcends the narrow "airport operations" view. It affects not only travelers and service providers, but also people, communities, local governments and local infrastructures within the airport's shadow. Solutions must be balanced, and seek to improve the situations of all stakeholders.
AIR is committed to solving the Logan related problems at their root cause; its primary focus is the quality of life and safety of the communities and people impacted by the airport.
AIR's approach to solving the transportation problem is primarily based on teamwork. AIR seeks to build upon its internal teamwork and to establish external team relationships with both protagonists and opponents of airport expansion. If the external team approach does not succeed, then the over-riding commitment to quality of life and safety will dictate whatever other approaches are necessary.
By mid-January, 1999, meetings were attended by scores of people, mostly highly motivated citizens. Committee operating guidelines were defined, and kickoff sessions for each committee were held.
A period of intense activity followed. A major demonstration (over 500 people) was conducted at the Massachusetts state house, a position paper was delivered to the Governor, presentations were made to elected officials and to the state Secretary of Transportation, testimony was given at a legislative transportation hearing and also delivered at all stages of the Massport Runway 14/32 Environmental Impact Review Process.
Other communities and organizations joined the effort. As a result of the multi-community effort, the support of nearly every involved political officeholder was acquired. Our Congressional House delegation, the mayors of Boston and other nearby cities, and local members of the State Legislature unilaterally expressed opposition to Logan's expansion.
On January 21, 2000, FAA Chief Jane Garvey announced that additional study on the environmental review of runway 14/32 would be delayed by nine to eighteen months. ``I honestly couldn't think of a situation where you have the mayor, the congressional delegation, and every community affected - including those that will benefit - opposed to the runway, and be able to move forward unless you address those concerns,'' she said.
AIR will continue working to limit the impact of Logan Expansion on our Community.
To learn how the AIR Environment-Health Committee is developing a powerful stand against airport expansion, click the button labeled "About The EH Committee" in the navigation bar at the top of the page, or click here.
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