North Adams Planning Board OKs $4.2 million airport building

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NORTH ADAMS — The city's Harriman and West Airport is one step closer to the creation of a flagship administration building.

The Planning Board signed off on plans for a $4.2 million multi-purpose facility that will be the center of airport operations.

Funded mostly by a $4 million grant from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division, the project was announced in January. The North Adams addition will be one of nearly 20 similar projects envisioned funded by MassDOT across the state over the coming years, with three others already underway.

"The building would be the last component of a totally revamped infrastructure at the airport," said Jeffrey Naughton, chairman of the Airport Commission. The renovation of a new runway at Harriman and West was completed in 2010. Other improvements include rebuilt taxiway and ramps, and the addition of instrument approach capabilities.

Though its purpose is as an administrative building, the new facility will have amenities that are similar to what airline passengers know as a terminal building — the first of its kind in North Adams. The building, designed with input from the city's airport commission, will have a pilot's lounge, conference space and offices.

"We went to each airport and talked to them and got their input as to what they wanted," said Tom Mohoney, director of airport engineering for MassDOT's aeronautics division. "We allow the airports to come in and give us their ideas and what they wanted to see built."

In addition to the administrative office space, the structure is planned to include a restaurant and public restroom. Though the space will exist for a future restaurant, MassDOT will mostly leave it up to a future restaurateur to complete it.

The exterior of the building saw the most input from the airport commission, according to Janna Kauss, who represented the architectural firm Fennick McCredie, the architect behind the airport projects across the state.

The building will be "a warm rust color that we think contrasts really nicely with the mountain behind and creates really a striking image when you drive down the road and you see this new administration building," Kauss said.

Construction on the facility, which will be positioned right at the end of Airport Road nearest the runway, is slated to begin this year.

The project was made possible after the $4 million grant was matched with $200,000 by Harry Patten, a well-established land developer whose business, Turboprop East, calls the Harriman West Airport home.

As an expression of gratitude for Patten's gift, the North Adams Airport Commission, which oversees the airport, gave Patten exclusive naming rights to the new building with their approval.

The commission had been hoping for a new building for several years, but the grant requires a 5 percent match from North Adams, a number the financially struggling city was unable to meet without outside help.


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