The sky's the limit at Pittsfield Municipal Airport, leaders say

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PITTSFIELD — Things at Pittsfield Municipal Airport are really taking off, officials said during a Tuesday visit from Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.

Over the past three years, the airport expanded its reach by 40 percent, according to Gloria Bouillon, the airport director.

"This is why I chose Pittsfield," said Bouillon, who in 2017 came to the Berkshires from Denver. "It was the growth and the potential that brought me here."

Puffy, white clouds hung against a baby blue sky at the Tamarack Road facility as MassDOT officials toured the campus Tuesday. Their goal, Pollack said, was to observe past investments in play and keep an eye toward future ones.

The airport is currently closed as it undertakes a $7 million runway reconstruction project funded through the Federal Aviation Administration. MassDOT contributed $374,000 to that project, Bouillon said, which will be ongoing throughout the summer.

Meantime, the airport is poised to finalize a lease contract that could net $6.8 million over 30 years, and an additional $400,000 a year in tax payments to the city. These advancements land as Pittsfield's leaders cast a weary eye toward a tight budget.

Bouillon said airport revenues grew 22 percent over the last year, mostly in landing fees.

"The business case is here," said Jeff DeCarlo, administrator of MassDOT's Aeronautics Division. "It's looking good for Pittsfield."

The airport sits on 600 acres and boasts ample views of rolling Berkshire hills. Currently 51 planes call it home, including a dozen jets.

Pollack took note of how steep grading at the site makes for both construction challenges and great views. "It is beautiful," Pollack said, but "it's a tough site."

Bouillon said the airport turns away people desiring hangar space, which equates to a lost opportunity.

"They don't have anywhere to go right now," she said, "[so] they're going somewhere else."

To get the airport to the next level, she said, she'll look for capital investments to expand the facility's hangar space.

If public dollars are too sparse, she said, she'll look toward a public-private partnership. And eventually, she aims to return the airport to commercial service.

Pollack said site visits like this one are the best part of the job.

"This is great for me because I really get to see how the partnership pans out on the ground," she said.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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