ProJo’s Flawed Manchester/Green Airport Comparison
On Saturday, the ProJo took the opportunity to compare the expansion of Manchester, NH’s airport to the lack thereof at T.F. Greene (though they’re still trying). Arguing over the efficacy of expanding T.F. Green is fine, and I have my own opinion. But comparing Green and Manchester isn’t apples to apples by any means. Here’s what the ProJo editors wrote:
By all accounts, Mark Brewer has done a good job as director of T.F. Green Airport. But Manchester, N.H., officials confirmed that he has agreed to leave by the end of the year to run the airport there — for a cut in pay, at least initially.
“I feel bad for Providence,” said Sean Thomas, an aide to Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta. “We’re getting a great guy.”
Mr. Brewer, 54, has led Green since 2004. He is not saying exactly why he is leaving but it is hard to avoid the suspicion that it’s because Manchester seems more serious about expanding its airport in ways necessary to keep it and its area’s economy healthy than is Rhode Island.
Warwick officials have done everything possible to drag out a much-needed runway expansion. Manchester did it with little fuss.
In addition, New Hampshire’s competitive tax climate and generally well managed local and state government leaves the Granite State better poised for economic growth — which will obviously spur airport growth.
While both airports had sharp dropoffs in passenger traffic last year, Mr. Brewer seemed to choose the environment where he has the better prospects for growth and success.
Demographically, the Granite State and Rhode Island are quite different in several important ways, and so comparisons must be made carefully. But Rhode Island could take some lessons from New Hampshire when it comes to public infrastructure.
A few things. First, I agree that “New Hampshire’s competitive tax climate and generally well managed local and state government leaves the Granite State better poised for economic growth.” How could you not? However, two other lines, when taken together, point to the problem with the ProJo’s proselytizing. “Manchester did it with little fuss” and “Demographically, the Granite State and Rhode Island are quite different in several important ways, and so comparisons must be made carefully.” Well, it’s the demographics, along with the geopraphics, that explain why it’s harder to expand T.F. Green. Two pictures help to explain the key difference.
Here’s Manchester’s already expanded airport:
View Larger Map
Here is T.F. Green:
View Larger Map
These are done to the same scale and you can “google” around with them to see that Manchester Airport is located south of the city in a relatively unpopulated area (note that a lot of green surrounds the airport). Few people were or will be affected by expansion because not many people live around the airport. The exact opposite is true of T.F. Green, which lay smack-dab in the middle of RI’s 2nd largest city.
Extending into a hayfield that lay outside of the population center is one thing; knocking down houses (and neighborhoods) and splitting a city is another. One is simply easier than the other. Thus, I think the ProJo was disingenuous in its comparison because of this basic factor.