It took more than 20 years, but the new Barnstable Municipal Airport terminal and tower were worth the work and the wait for the many people who made it possible, airport Manager Roland “Bud” Breault said as he opened the dedication ceremony on a perfect spring afternoon Friday. The ceremony was held outside the terminal under a large tent with a backdrop of four vintage planes lined up on the runway.
While acknowledging the many obstacles the airport faced during the $40 million renovation, Breault said, “We attained a jewel that will add to the economy and the Cape Cod way of life.” As emcee, Breault scattered thanks and accolades to all those who made the project possible between several speakers throughout the nearly hour-long program.
“The airport was a product of teamwork led by the town and the airport commission, the legislative delegation and the U.S. government,” he said. Several officials representing those organizations were present and spoke at the celebration attended by around 200. Breault also thanked many private entities and individuals who worked on the project and introduced several members present from the John Polando and Russell Boardman families for whom the airport was officially named in 1981.
Barnstable Town Council President Frederick Chirigotis also cited the collaborative efforts, saying, “Everybody here deserves credit for working together.”
State Sen. Dan Wolf, D-Cape & Islands, wore two hats, representing the Cape’s legislative delegation as well as founder and head of Cape Air, the airport’s largest and longest serving airline with 1,000 employees. Wolf said the private sector serves as the economic engine while the government lays down the tracks.
“I’m working hard to continue to expand air service here,” he said, noting efforts to collaborate with his company’s partner, Jet Blue, to provide direct service to New York City in the future with new “quiet airplanes.”
Wolf stirred some memories when he listed 32 airlines that have provided service at the airport. He challenged the audience to remember more, offering free airfare to anywhere Cape Air flies for those who did. Six or eight people added several more names.
State Rep. Demetrius Atsalis, D-Barnstable, recalled growing up near the airport and watching with his father and brothers at the airport fence as the Yellow Birds and other planes took off.
Ann Mollica, New England Regional deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, noted the aggressive schedule set for the airport construction when ground was broken in July 2010, the tower redesign and relocation, the state-of-the art energy efficient aspects, two 5,000-foot plus runways and 220,000 annual takeoffs and landings. She also acknowledged the many professionals who provided their expertise behind the scenes.
Richard A. Davey, secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which provided $15 million in grants, said, “This facility is another reason we need to be investing. Transportation is all about jobs and economic development.”
Former Congressman William Delahunt worked with the state’s U.S. senators, Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry, to move the airport project along. He recalled how Kennedy harassed him and kept calling him about the progress on the airport.
In his 15 years in Congress, Delahunt said he saw a transformation of the Cape and Islands, saying the airport is now “really a regional airport. Wow.”
Ronald Persuitte, newly elected chairman of the airport commission, closed the ceremony, noting “the long journey for those who were intimately involved in the airport project.” He said, “The truly regional airport has had a positive economic impact on the region,” providing $227 million in direct and indirect benefits, more than 2,000 jobs and a $74 million payroll.
The commission is now working on a strategic plan for the long-term future of the airport, Persuitte said. One of the goals is to develop more community awareness in the airport.
He presented former commission chairman Dan Santos, who recently resigned, with a citation for his efforts on the project. “I had a wonderful time. It was important to me to get this done for the community,” Santos said.
Following the ceremony, everyone was invited to tour the new terminal, see the art of 15 Cape artists installed on the walls and enjoy a buffet lunch provided by Mad Platter, the new restaurant coming to the airport soon.
Susan Vaughn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org