Taconic Aviation owner hits turbulence in Mass.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Alex Kelly purchased a flight instruction and scenic flight business at the city's airport with the intent to use its hangar space.

But he has learned that it's much more complicated than that.

Kelly, who owns Bennington, Vt.-based Taconic Aviation, purchased the assets of Teamflys in December with the intention of running a similar business in the city's Harriman-and-West Airport. Kelly's interest in North Adams is due to the impending summer-long closure of the Bennington airport runway during its renovation.

"With limited facilities at North Adams, I offered to purchase Teamflys to gain an office and hangar as well as an opportunity to expand my existing flight school," Kelly wrote in a January public letter. But in 2017, the Teamflys hangar space had gone from private ownership into the city's hands.

The airport commission has decided that previous tenants in the building known as the "Shamrock" hangar would be grandfathered in, but that new tenants will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Kelly intended to make his pitch to the airport commission at its January meeting, but was told by the commission to submit a proposal in writing.

He was on the agenda for Tuesday's Airport Commission meeting, but Chairman Armand Boillat announced the commission wasn't ready to hear proposals — and may not be ready by its March meeting, either.

"We hope to be able to do it in March," Boillat said.

The commission has hired a municipal law firm to help establish minimum standards and draft lease agreements for current and future tenants in the hangar space.

Boillat also noted that it was the first meeting for two recently appointed members of the Airport Commission.

The city has determined that because Kelly is the new owner of a previous tenant, he is a new tenant — and had to get in line.

City Administrative Officer Michael Canales said Tuesday that the city has received interest in the space from four different parties. The space is a hangar for a single plane and a classroom.

"There's been a number of people that have come forward and expressed interest in the hangars and the office space, and we need to thoroughly review everyone's proposal," Boillat said.

The building, which was renovated in the past year with federal grant funding, is home to three other existing tenants, according to Canales.

The announcement that his proposal would not be heard on Tuesday miffed Kelly.

"I have been given the runaround from step one here," Kelly said.

Kelly said Teamflys former manager Trevor Gilman had promised he would be granted use of the Teamflys space prior to the purchase.

Gilman sat on the Airport Commission until December. Amidst a State Police investigation into irregularities in the airport fuel account, former Mayor Richard Alcombright removed Gilman from the commission on the same day the sale of Teamflys was announced.

Kelly pressed the commission on the matter, arguing "you really don't have a choice in this" and accused the commission of violating Federal Aviation Administration regulations by not allowing him to operate a flight school.

"It's insane what is happening here," Kelly said.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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