April 30, 2008
For 1,000 time the City of Worcester needs to privatize the entire airport via a long-term lease or outright sale by assembling an RFP for the entire airport and get other airport management companies (Avports), other airport authorities and anyone else that we can think of to look at the RFP. Couple other questions:
- What ever happened to the G-13 Jet that was coming to ORH?
- Where is the final Master Plan?
- What is IMG doing?
- I assume the one bidder for the one parcel of land, who was given a 6 month extension, is not going to exercise their option to lease.
April 28, 2008
April 27, 2008
The one thing I find interesting was the line from Tom Zidelis.
Over the past 20 years, the city has received nearly $27 million in capital improvement grants for Worcester Regional Airport from the federal government, according to Thomas F. Zidelis, the city’s chief financial officer. Using a 20-year straight line amortization, he said, the unamortized balance of those grants is slightly more than $9 million.
That is the lowest number that I have ever heard. In fact in Mr Nemeth's column today, he refers to "a consultant pegged that figure at close to $30 million." Although I do not see closure of ORH as being an option, we should have an idea of what that number is?
A good question by a City Councilor Tuesday may be, if we accept these monies would there be any problems if we end up downgrading to a General Aviation airport?
- "MassPort has spent 15 million in deficit subsidies and operating expenses". It has been a substantial amount but everytime I try to calculate it, I come up with more like 7-8 million. We should still be very thankful to MassPort, but lets me accurate.
- "60,000 flight operations." That comes to 5,000 per month or 166 per day. This was explained once before that the flight school landings account for more then half the number.
Municipally owned golf courses need to be privatized, via a long term lease or outright sold. Myself I am not a big fan of selling the course but having a private golf management company taking over the course for 20 years is fine by me. No different then the management company that runs the DCU Center.
April 26, 2008
Jahn, I bet you here that Commerce is sold by the end of the year.
April 25, 2008
Airport executive director Bob O'Brien says that in March, 29,361 people flew in and out of Rockford - a 27% increase over the previous record set just a month earlier.The airport's top four months all-time have been in the past year.
April 24, 2008
April 22, 2008
Privatizing City Airport studied
Kilpatrick wants to turn over management, renovate City Airport and add longer runway.
Christine MacDonald / The Detroit News
DETROIT -- Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is close to announcing a plan to turn over management of the struggling Coleman A. Young International Airport -- commonly known as City Airport -- to a private company that has pledged to spend $50 million to revamp it.
Improvements would include construction of a 6,500-foot-long runway parallel to the two shorter existing runways, said Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams. He said Kilpatrick plans on submitting to the City Council a proposed agreement with AvPorts, a Baltimore-based company, in the next three weeks. Bigger jets can't use the airport because its runways are too short. But lengthening runways is expensive and will face certain opposition from nearby suburbs over noise.
The deal is tied to the $6 million Kilpatrick has set aside for the airport in his proposed $300 million economic stimulus plan, Adams said. He said that money would help bring in AvPorts, which he said would then make the renovations. "It's an area ripe for redevelopment," Adams said.
The $6 million would be used to complete a federally recommended safety zone by buying out nearly 500 area property owners, a plan which the city has been working on for more than 13 years. Adams said the city would still own the airport, but the private company would manage operations -- similar to the city's relationship with the Detroit Zoo.
James Canning, a Kilpatrick spokesman, said the administration is unable to release more details on the proposal, including what would happen to city employees who work at the airport. Eight full-time positions are listed for the airport in the city's current budget. It will cost the city nearly $3.4 million to run the airport this year.
Detroit officials have talked about turning over management of the airport for years without success. The last three Detroit mayors have promised to expand the airport, but all have fallen short. About a dozen commercial airlines have pulled passenger service since 1975, and the only planes using it are private, corporate and cargo. Still, some aviation experts see the airport as a key opportunity in the city's revitalization.
AvPorts operates and manages airports. Its sister company, Atlantic Aviation, runs 72 fixed-base operations at 69 airports across the country
April 21, 2008
April 20, 2008
April 18, 2008
First and foremost you need to be low to moderate income to qualify, people with money stay away. Take a minute to think about that--how crazy is this!! Why?
There is a "soft" second for $50,000. What is a "soft" second mortgage? It is a mortgage that you do not have to pay back and is discharged, if you live in the house for a stipulated "affordability" period of time (mostly 15 years). In order to "qualify" for the "soft" second, you need to be low to moderate income. People with above moderate income will not qualify for the "soft" second mortgage.
In this example the CDC would receive $180,000:
- 130,000 in the form of first mortgage from a private "conventional" bank
- 50,000 from the City of Worcester in HOME funds.
The low to moderate home-owner pays back the first mortgage (130,000), but pays nothing on the "soft" second. What happens if this home-owner falls behind on their first and is foreclosed by the bank? If this occurs the stipulated "affordability" time period mentioned above has been violated and the $50,000 soft second is no longer "soft". The City of Worcester owes $50,000!!!!
Right now the City of Worcester has millions in soft seconds, resulting mostly from the sale of houses by the CDC's all around the City of Worcester. These "soft" seconds will become liabilities to the City of Worceter, if someone who is not low to moderate income takes title to the underlying property. In other words the City of Worcester has a vested interest to help a low to moderate income home-owner with a soft second stay out of foreclosure.
We can expect to see more and more monies being diverted to programs such as SAVE to help people in foreclosure. These programs main purpose, however, will be target home-owners in foreclosure, who have "soft" second mortgages to prevent them from becomiing liabilities for the City of Worcester.
A more detailed story in the newspaper today about saving the CDC's, click here. It never ends, more hand-outs to the tune of one million dollars.
- My own personal favorite is Main South CDC needs 107,788 to convert four condos to rental units?
- Better yet East Side CDC needs another 760,000 to build 4 units. Maybe someone should say don't build them right now???
- Do you think anyone in leadership positions will question any of this?
Again let me ask how can a private developer compete with subsidized development like this? The simple answer is they can not and will not invest monies into projects in the City of Worcester. I am repeating myself but not only do the CDC's not stimulate private investments they stiffle it.
Business friendly? CDC friendly is more like it in the City of Worcester.
April 17, 2008
- Get land for pennies on the dollar from the City of Worcester, usually through tax title--SWEETHEART deals
- Get any variance that they want, no matter how ridiculous
- Millions of dollars in Federal and State grants
- Although I can not prove, I question whether or not they pay the same water and sewer fees that the private developer has to pay.
That is still not enough. Governor Patrick is announcing "nearly $1 million in state grants for community development corporations to help those nonprofits in the sale of affordable housing units that are not selling because of high prices". What about the private developers and private homeowners trying to sell their houses in this market??
Who is going to help with all the foreclosure problems? Governor Patrick is announcing "a program to help community nonprofit organizations buy foreclosed properties and get them back on the market to protect affected neighborhoods from speculators and deterioration."
Let me get this straight. On one hand we are going to help the CDC with their speculative investments and then we turn to them to protect us against speculators?
April 16, 2008
We need to take the money!! It will, however, increase the amount of money that we would owe if we closed the airport down. Lets be realistic that is not going to happen.
An analogoy would be this. You want to sell your house and someone is going to give you $20,000 for free to put a new roof and siding on the house. The catch is if you tear the house down you will have to pay the 20,000 back. You would take the free 20,000, put on a new roof/siding and sell the house. Note you better make sure that the new owner is liable for the 20,000 if he tears the house down.
We need to:
- take the monies
- do the improvements
- downgarde to a GA airport
- market the entire airport nationwide (not just to MassPort)
April 15, 2008
- A simple question asking how much could we save if we downgraded to General Aviation?(as our consultant IMG advised).
- Why do we always only talk about MassPort? (They are not the only owner or manager of airports.)
April 14, 2008
- I would imagine that Shaws signed a long term lease. In other words the landlord is getting paid so what impetus is there for the landlord to even bother looking for a tenant. This happens all the time, can you say Price Chopper on Mill Street.
- It is much better idea then an indoor skating rink.
- It would be wildly more successful then a Super 88 Supermarket on Portland Street. What research did anyone do on this?
The location has no walking traffic and no parking. To top it off there are two very successful and very busy Oriental markets on Main Street and one on Green Street, all less then one mile away. Not to mention a brand new Price Rite going on Southbridge Street, although this was only added recently to the equation. Hey lets not for the old Mart location. Who the hell would ever shop here?? Evidently Super 88 realized the same thing, thus they are not coming to Worcester.
Bottom line is that we need truly "out of the box" ideas like these, versus the same old same old.
April 13, 2008
According to control board executive director Philip Puccia’s recent memo to the board, issued in tandem with the city’s new budget, an aggressive reform approach has affected Springfield’s finances, administration, public safety and schools, summarized in the memo as follows:
- Health insurance plan design changes and the transfer of city employee and retiree health insurance to the Group Insurance Commission. This year, the increase in health insurance rates is only four percent, compared to the city’s historical annual 18 percent increase.
- Adoption of Chapter 32B Section 18 of the Massachusetts General Laws which makes Medicare the primary payer of retiree health insurance costs, saving $18.7 million for the city and retirees over a three year period (FY06 – FY08).
- Successful negotiation and implementation of all city and School Department labor contracts, most of which are long-term contracts, and all of which provide for improved departmental management and predictable, affordable wage increases.
- Implementation of MUNIS, an integrated financial management system, for the city and School Department. This system will improve accountability and transparency, streamline inefficient processes and eliminate the vast majority of (often redundant) manual processing for municipal processes.
- Collection of $25.8 million in overdue taxes, including fees and related interest charges.
- Transfer of Retirement System assets to the Commonwealth’s Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, a decision which increased retirement system earnings by $25 million in one year, compared to the city’s prior investment performance.
- Implementation of performance-based budgeting to increase the accountability and efficiency of service output.
Utilization of a comprehensive payroll system that has improved efficiency, reliability and has helped us to improve many other areas of municipal operation.
- Increase in the size of the city’s Police Department and Fire Department through hiring, and by transferring dozens of sworn personnel from desk duty to street patrol and fire suppression duties.
- Significant investment in a system to track and manage repairs in the city’s infrastructure of parks, schools and other municipal buildings.
April 12, 2008
April 11, 2008
- 25 Major Taylor Boulevard
- 25 Worcester Center Boulevard
One would think there are then two Unos, but they are in actuality one in the same. Only in ORH! BTW. If I was standing in front of Med Center and someone pulled up and asked me where Major Taylor Boulevard was, I would have no clue.
“We are pleased to announce the purchase of additional high-quality MD-80 aircraft,” Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., CEO and Chairman, said. “Our strong balance sheet and industry-leading profit margins enable us to grow and pursue many opportunities which we believe can enhance the overall profitability of our business. Our strong financial condition permits us to purchase aircraft for cash.”
Gallagher continued, “Our financial strength is particularly notable in light of recent closures of several other airlines. While Allegiant is not immune to high fuel prices and a softer economy, our business model emphasizing low fixed costs and the generation of ancillary revenues has proven robust during these more challenging times.”
As of Dec. 31, 2007, Allegiant is one of only two U.S. airlines that have more cash than debt. Additionally, Allegiant’s profitability for 2007 led all publicly traded U.S. legacy and low-cost carriers, as measured by operating and pre-tax margin. 2007 was Allegiant’s fifth consecutive profitable year.
Four of the newly purchased aircraft are expected to enter revenue service for Allegiant in the first and second quarter of 2009 and the remaining two aircraft are expected to enter revenue service in the first quarter of 2010. Allegiant expects to receive approximately $5.5 million in lease revenue from the six aircraft, but expects to incur maintenance obligations of a similar dollar amount prior to the end of the leases. A portion of these maintenance obligations may be funded by supplemental rent received under the lease.
Allegiant’s current fleet consists of 36 MD-80 aircraft in service and is expected to grow to 37 by the end of the month.
April 09, 2008
The fuel prices, biggest expense for an airline, has made this business model almost impossible. Today's start-ups are simply losing money too fast, they do not have the cash to subsidize these losses and simply run out of time. Since ORH's only chance is a start-up that can not start-up with fuel prices this high, we have little to no chance of getting an airline in 2008.
The next airline I see in big trouble is Sun Country.
65,000 passengers went through the terminal since Skybus began last July. Representative Joe Wagner say there is still a market for a no-frills airline in Western Mass. "The idea that we are still going to improve the facilities is still on the table, it is central to the mission of the airport," said Representative Wagner.They say during this time without passenger flights, the improvements can go forward, hoping a modern airport can attract another low cost airline.
April 08, 2008
- Final version of the Master Plan was received on March 25th and the release to the public "is being coordinated". Cost of Master Plan $399,460.
- The one person who responded to the land RFP six month extension ends the ends of March. "Formal notification from the potential developer has not been received."
- IMG is still working with City and Massport are still focusing efforts on "identifying and recruiting airlines". Money spent on IMG $99,750.
- Extension to spend the $300,000 in the DOT Small Community Air Service Grant expires 9/10/2008.
April 07, 2008
April 06, 2008
- Webster Square. The last thing I remember in it was Son Redemption Center.
- Main Street by Hammond Street--the Sunbridge Nursing Home
- Beacon Street. I do not know what you would call it.
- Lincoln Street. Old Sheraton Lincoln.
This has all been done in the past 6 months.
- Privatizing ORH (don't just talk to MassPort only. Nationwide RFP to other airport authorities, airlines and airport mgmt companies like National Express and AvPorts)
- Privatizing Green Hill Golf Course
- Privatizing the 5 (might be 4) municipal parking garages
By privatization I mean the long-term lease or outright sale of these city assets. We do the same exact thing with the Centrum, why do we not do the same for these other under performing city assets?
First, the City of Worcester needs to save money. Although some will say ORH is costing us nothing this year, based on the hope that negotiations with MassPort will result in this year's deficit being paid is "fuzzy math". Last year ORH cost the tax-payers approximately $1,500,000 of which approximately 600,000 was debt service. If we downgrade to GA airport, we will save money.
Second, between the economy, the tightening credit markets and the high cost of fuel, there is little to no chance of ORH getting commercial service in 2008. Add to that a future potential airline has no idea of our future management, lets be realistic???
Third, our own consultant IMG recommended this. Read the report page 3 with the paragraph that starts off with the word "ultimately."
Fourth, the current mgmt can not get anything done. Two failed land RFP's, $300,000 of untapped grant monies, a 20 year Airport Master Plan that taken 5 years to create, the never ending construction work on Goddard, a horrible website and the failing conditions of the buildings at the airport tells you something.
From someone who believes in the potential of the airport, however, you need to realistic. We need to downgrade to a GA airport today.
April 05, 2008
Some may say that it was a good idea that ORH did not have Skybus. I completely disagree. Even now with the departure of Skybus from Westover, do you think Skybus overall hurt or helped their airport? It helped put them on the map as a viable option and sent a signal to other airlines that you can succeed at Westover!
People will not blame the airport, but will be hoping for a replacement. I will bet you right now that the Airport Director is on the phone with Allegiant, Myrtle Beach Direct and Southern Skyways. They have a story to tell and they will have a carrier back within six months. Look no further then Rockford. Once they lost United last month, they were able to replace them immediately with Southern Skyways. Before that it was Hooters that went out of business and was replaced.
Airports like ORH, Westover and Portsmouth, which have little or no commercial service, need to take chances on start-ups. A legacy carrier is not going to come knocking on the door. Your hope is that you are able to re-establish yourself and get other carriers to take note. What I am trying to say is that a carrier going out of business does not hurt an airport as much as an airline, like Allegiant, deciding to leave an airport.
Lastly, how much did it truly cost Westover. Most likely Skybus received free rent and anything else you can think about. What is the true cost of an empty airport to offer free rent and other services? In other words there were few out-of-pocket expenses to the airport. Even if Skybus wanted some advertising monies, the airport may have Small Community Air Service grant monies from the DOT. (ORH has a balance of $300,000 that we need to spend by September.)
Bottom line is that airports like ORH, Westover and Portsmouth need to work with risky under-capitalized second tier airlines. It is not so much that the airline needs to be a success, but that the airport and the community supports the airline and sends a positive message to other airlines.
April 04, 2008
- Festival (never happened)
- DJ Air (never happened)
It looks like Allegiant may be the only survivor from the 2nd tiered carriers and what they have accomplished only becomes that more impressive. The only other survivors without much track history are:
- Myrtle Beach Direct
- Southern Skyways
Based on the success that Westover had, I wonder if they will be able to attract Allegiant?
Sir Richard Branson’s newest venture, Virgin Charter (www.virgincharter.com), makes finding and booking on-demand charter flights simple. Virgin Charter’s online marketplace allows customers to search, compare and purchase charter air flights from a network of more than 1,000 private aircrafts. With just a few clicks of a mouse, clients using Virgin Charter have access to hand-pick charter operators ready and able to meet their specific travel demands.
Linear Air, headquartered in Concord, Mass., was selected to join this exclusive network of private aircraft operators based on its quality, service and safety standards. Linear Air provides air taxi service that is personalized, affordable and convenient.Linear Air is the only air charter company within the Virgin Charter network to count the revolutionary Eclipse E500 as part of its fleet. The twin engine Eclipse E500 offers the performance of a jet aircraft with technology that enables unprecedented low cost of charter travel for the end customer.“We are thrilled to be a part of the Virgin Charter Marketplace and look forward to servicing their customers throughout the Northeast, mid Atlantic and eastern Canada,” said William Herp, president and CEO of Linear Air, adding that Linear Air and Virgin Charter have a shared goal of growing the private air market by introducing new customers to the many benefits of private air travel.
“Linear Air’s inclusion in this select network speaks to our outstanding service and safety record, of which we are very proud.”“We are pleased to welcome Linear Air to our marketplace,” said Scott Duffy, CEO, Virgin Charter. “Our operator partners are selected for their exceptional safety and quality standards and Linear Air exemplifies this.”
Westover Metropolitan Airport is in line to receive $15 million for infrastructure improvements to support the expansion of its passenger air service. State Rep. Joseph F. Wagner, D-Chicopee, announced yesterday that $15 million was recently added to the Joint Transportation Committee's proposed $4.8 billion transportation bond bill. The House and Senate need to pass the bill before sending it to the governor's desk for final approval, which should happen within three weeks, Wagner said. "There's not a doubt in my mind that it will find its way to the governor's desk," said Wagner, who co-chairs the Transportation Committee.
The airport, which is owned by Westover Metropolitan Development Corp., introduced its first regular passenger service in almost two decades in July when Skybus Airlines debuted there. The discount airline, based in Columbus, Ohio, just announced this week it will be adding two daily flights to Florida on June 1. There are also flights to Columbus and Greensboro, N.C.
"I think it's (the bonding) an appropriate time given there's been the establishment of passenger service at Westover," Wagner said. "We've seen an expansion of Skybus in a very short period of time."
Pogo Jet Inc. has also announced it wants to offer charter jet service at Westover once it starts offering trips, which should be sometime next year. The company has established a base at the airport. "It's very good news," said Allan W. Blair, chief executive office and president of Westover Metropolitan Development Corp., of the $15 million.
Blair said he's working on a scope of infrastructure improvements needed at the airport, which includes a new terminal at a cost of between $7 million and $9 million. Ramp improvements and new parking lots, access roads and signage are also on the list. The terminal was last renovated in 1988. While the airport does comply with post Sept. 11, 2001, security requirements, security arrangements should also be improved, Blair added. "I believe, given the level of activity we're seeing, the only way to handle the traffic is a new building," Blair said. "These buildings are portals for those who enter our market and we want it to be a pleasant experience for them."
Both Blair and Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette praised Wagner for including the money in the bond package.
Bissonnette said state Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Daniel O'Connell is scheduled to visit the airport today to review the facility. "We're very grateful for the administration's support of this and the chairman's efforts to get it into the transportation bond bill," Bissonnette said. "It's a clear signal to Skybus we support their continued expansion at Westover."
What truly amazes me is the silence of the tenants at ORH, whose lives do in fact depend on the airport. Recently I have tried, maybe 7 or 8 times, via e-mail and cell phone to contact what I believe is an ex-tenant at ORH (Amity Flight School) to do a blog interview to no avail. If the people, who earn their livings off ORH are not willing to fight for changes, why should us tax-payers be spending approximately $1,000,000 per year from the General Fund to keep the status quo?
April 03, 2008
If all 9 goals, listed below, were being achieved by the UniverCity Partnership, why then are we closing it?
Seriously lets put up one garage for sale and see what the bids are? What exactly would we have to lose to simply prepare a bid and analyze the results--nothing!!!
Airport executive director Bob O'Brien says that in March, 29,361 people flew in and out of Rockford - a 27% increase over the previous record set just a month earlier.
April 02, 2008
- Utilizing the Colleges considerable purchasing power to promote purchasing from Worcester vendors
- Colleges as employers of Worcester residents
- Colleges involvement in real estate development
- Use of the Colleges advising capabilities by City Government and Local Business
- Business incubation and assistance
- Workforce development efforts
- Downtown development and the student consumer
- Students as volunteers, service learners and professional interns
- Marketing of Worcester
If you want to see the specific recommendations for each of the goals, read the report by clicking here.
Do any other towns in cities in Cental Massachusetts that have either a FOG or a Responsible Employer Ordinance?
April 01, 2008
Let me set the record straight. The task force led by Jim Leary, which I participated in, did a great job and let to the creation of the UniverCity Partnership. It had tons of potential and could have once and for all put the PILOT debate to bed. Instead the wrong person was put in charge and nobody knew who or what the the UniverCity Partnership or Armand Carrier was.
Make no mistake about this the UniverCity Partnership was a failure and another lost opportunity.
A Christian clergyman supporting Home Again said that Worcester is called by God to help the poor. True, but God doesn’t call us to destroy Worcester with too many poverty programs. In fact, the Lord Jesus would never support the task force’s plan to end homelessness because of the injustice of the plan. The plan places all the burden on Worcester, and allows surrounding towns to snob-zone against the poor.
Remember, CitySquare, Gateway Park and the Hanover Theatre will become meaningless if we lose our neighborhoods to poverty. Worcester already has too many poor and an insufficient high-income population. If we continue letting towns like Southboro take in the high-income people, while Worcester takes in all the welfare people from the Third World, Worcester will become the junkyard of the metropolitan area.
Also, city employees should support homeowners in their fight to save their neighborhoods from being dumped on, because dumping will drive out the people who finance the city and pay for union contracts. The unions should remember that it’s the homeowners, not the nonprofits, who pay the salaries of the union membership, and that service providers like Healthlink helped to destroy the city of Springfield, costing many police and firefighters their jobs