Legislative Affairs Update
by Terrence F. Smith
Massport President Speaks
Massachusetts Port Authority President & CEO Thomas J. Kinton, Jr. presented a tour of the agency’s history, current conditions and future at the May 19 Chamber Government Affairs Executive Speaker luncheon. Mr. Kinton began his remarks with some history. Massport was created in 1956 by the Legislature as an independent authority to manage Logan Airport, Hanscom Field, the Boston Seaport and Tobin Bridge.
Today Massport operates entirely on fees generated by assets it manages. In the past 12 years Massport has made significant investments at Logan to provide better operations for the flying public and easier access to and from the airport. Improvements to Logan have resulted in new entries to the Boston market and new options for travelers. Logan is working to establish flights to China and Japan, and Kinton sees the introduction of Boeing 787 into international fleets as a major asset to establishing regular non-stop service between Boston and Asia. The other airports operated by Massport are Hanscom Field, which is the primary airport serving corporate airplanes in Greater Boston, and Worcester Airport, which is owned by the City of Worcester.
Massport also owns and operates the Boston Seaport. Shippers operating out of Connolly Terminal link Boston to Asia, Europe and South America. Cruise ships also use Massport facilities and this is a growing market. Cruises from Boston to Bermuda and to Canada operate out of the port and Boston is a port of call for the cruise industry. The Tobin Bridge provides between $16 and $20 million annually in free cash to Massport.
Kinton expects a number of changes from transportation reform legislation. He stressed that it is important that Massport remain a financially independent authority, which will allow it to continue to react quickly to needs as varied as new lighting for runways to negotiating with a new entrant airline. He expects that funds collected from tolls on the Tobin Bridge will be redirected to the MBTA and for other road and bridge uses. He also expects that legislation will include Massport taking over ownership of Worcester Airport from the City of Worcester. He stressed that a number of changes will be necessary, including improving accessibility of the airport, for Worcester to be successful.
Mr. Kinton took questions about birds and security at Logan, how Massport fits into regional transportation planning, negotiations with airlines for route services and Logan’s capacity and Massport’s real estate development portfolio. He reported that Massport has been actively involved in addressing issues related to birds impacting air travel since the 1960s and that increasingly sophisticated solutions are being developed to address this issue along with traditional methods like shot gun blasts to disperse flocks. Regarding security, he said that Massport works closely with federal agencies on security issues and that Logan has served as a test-bed for advanced airport security technologies. Massport is a full participant in regional transportation planning and during the past fifteen years has worked with other regional airports to ensure that service is spread around the region.
Ann Stanesa from Genzyme introduced our speaker. Genzyme is the sponsor of the 2009 Government Affairs Committee. The luncheon was hosted at the Boston Cambridge Marriott and we were joined by Jim Kappel, General Manager. Thanks to Mr. Kappel and his staff for a great event.
Draft Biosafety Regulation
In June, the Cambridge Public Health Department held a public hearing regarding a Draft Cambridge Biosafety Regulation. The regulation would prohibit all BSL-4 work in Cambridge and would add requirements for facilities doing BSL-3 and selective agent work not covered under the Cambridge rDNA Ordinance. More information is available from the Cambridge Health Department Web site at www.cambridgepublichealth.org/news/biosafety_regulation_hearing/
. Written comments on this draft regulation may be filed until July 31.
City Council Report
In mid-June, amendments to the zoning ordinance were passed that will provide a development framework for Lesley University’s continued growth in the Porter Square area. The result of three years of work between Lesley University and residents from the Agassiz, Porter Square and Neighborhood Nine communities, this will, among other things, allow Lesley to redevelop the former North Prospect Church property on Massachusetts Avenue for the Art Institute of Boston. As part of its outreach to the community Lesley University established a Web site on its plans for the area at www.lesley.edu/public_affairs/portersquare/zoningproposal.html
In early June, City Manager Robert Healy transmitted a report to the Council on the life science industry in Cambridge. This report was requested in response to concerns that the industry was leaving Cambridge. The report identifies both companies that have moved or have announced plans to move some operations out of Cambridge as well as companies that have increased operations in Cambridge. It report identifies a number of positive actions to suggest long-term growth in this sector, including growth in employment by Novartis, the successful rezoning effort by Alexandria in East Cambridge and Vertex’s decision to take space that became available.
In late May, the Council passed the City budget and approved increases in a number of fees. The Council passed a $444 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009. The new fees went into effect on June 1, 2009. Click here for a PDF of the new fee schedule, noting that Plumbing and Gas Fitting Fees for Ovens, Gas Ranges, Space Heaters, Dryers was amended to $20 rather than the $10 fee shown in the table.
During the next few months the Council will discuss a number of issues of interest to the business community. Hearings are expected regarding the City’s adoption of the State’s Stretch Building Code and retail rents in neighborhood business districts. Both the Council and School Committee elections are scheduled for this November.
The 2009 Government Affairs program is sponsored by Genzyme Corporation. For more information on GAC activities, contact Director of Government Affairs Terrence Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (617) 876-4213.
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16