Say No To Airport Expansion

Peter and Alison MacKay •

To the editor,

My name is Peter MacKay and as many of you know, I’ve lived and worked here for almost 40 years. I’ve done my best to contribute to the betterment of the Nantucket Community while running the Social Services Department at the Hospital for 34 years. Today, I am asking the Nantucket community to help my neighbors and I who live by the airport by supporting our efforts to stop the careless and thoughtless destruction of land by us in order to expand their parking for wealthy corporate jets.

Most of you would likely have little reason to know that they are about to start cutting down 6-8 acres of carbon reducing trees right up to the airport fence that we abut. Oh, no reason to worry they say, as they are planning on building a 15’ berm to replace the 30’ trees AND this berm will block all the carbon producing fumes and noise. Right. And let us not overlook the fact that they are using PFAS laden soil from their poisoned land after 30 years of dumping this toxin to fill this berm with! But "it will be encased in plastic" they say so again, no reason to worry. Only that this berm idea has no proven track record of effectiveness and it is known that PFAS are known as a ”forever chemical”.

The airport says they made every effort to inform the abutters by having Airport Commission meetings on 12/18/19 and 1/12/21. The latter meeting had a “30 day period for public input”. Oh, and they made a later communication to the Surfside Association of which I and many of my neighbors do not belong. So let's see now, at that time, 3-5 years ago, I believe we were all dealing with PFAS contamination and COVID. Not really paying too much attention to "airport parking expansion", which by the way was one of TEN different airport items discussed at that time.

Apparently, not really a hot button topic at that time either. During this time the Airport Commission decided amongst themselves to choose the only area of their very large perimeter that A) has year-round residents living next to it and B) would require the destruction of so many trees. Many would think that the east side or the north side, which has no residential neighbors and is mostly industrial, would be a much better choice. Oh no, Noah Karberg, Airport Manager says. Those areas have "environmental and permitting concerns". Again I say, really?? What are these environmental concerns? Moths and grass. Yup, moths and grass. As my wife Alison says, “so moths and grass are more important than people”? Well lets take into consideration that their chosen spot for expansion, namely in my back yard, is A) closest to their existing parking and B) closer to the terminal. Why would they want to utilize a much more compassionate space elsewhere when this is more convenient.

The airport, through its 30 year dispensing of PFAS laden foam dumped 2X per year, has already changed my life in many ways. I have had prostate cancer as well as my brother next door and my neighbor on the other side. My wife has medical thyroid issues all of which are directly attributable to PFAS. Now in all fairness, I have told the Airport Commission many times that I realize that the dumping of PFAS was not their call. They were mandated to do this by the FAA. It was what they did after they decided to go public with their knowledge of PFAS that is consistent with their uncaring and looking through fiscal glasses history.

When our wells were tested for PFAS, again two years after they stopped the dumping, our number was 12.3PPT. This was under the 20PPT that the EPA had as unsafe guidelines. However, and this is a big however, the people from the EPA who tested our wells said this number could and would change day by day. It is by no means a number that is, and would have been, a constant in the 30 years I have been drinking and bathing in this water. So my number, say in 2014, could easily have been significantly higher. But no, says the airport. That number, along with many of my neighbors numbers which were also below the 20PPT threshold, was now considered by the Airport Commission to be “THE NUMBER” to go by. Again, and in fairness, they have provided bottled water to those who tested positive for PFAS out of “an abundance of caution". Hmmmmm, so maybe “any" amount of PFAS may not be good? So, now that Town water is finally being brought down our street, we will have access to “fix our well water issue”. Except that we will have to pay to hook up to the Town water to the tune of $15,000-$20,000! The airport is not going to pay for hookup as our “number” was below the EPA threshold. Again, lacking in compassion and looking through fiscal glasses despite the fact that having more corporate jets brings in more money and access to more federal and state grants.

And back to the present. Yes PFAS from the airport has changed mine and my neighbor's lives. Not just in health but our property values have gone down. So what do they want to do now? Oh yeah, lets tear down their tree buffer, put a PFAS laden berm up and park noisy, smelly private jets there. Why not elsewhere as they are cozying up to corporate wealth to bring in more money? Because this is the “only place” that they can do it. Really? I would say that the Airport Commission and its manager are, in contrast to my efforts on this island, not working towards “the betterment of the Nantucket Community”.

Please forgive my wordiness but I needed to try to explain why this project is not only cruel but it should not be necessary. So I ask the public to say no to the Airport Commission who have tried to operate under the radar to get this expansion done. There will be a joint Selectman's and Airport Commission meeting March 4th at 5 o’clock. I urge you to help us-and yourselves if you value the dwindling Nantucket fragility - to make your voices heard.

And finally, to our Selectman, thank you for hearing us last Wednesday and agreeing to have this joint meeting.


Peter and Alison MacKay

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