Task Force wants to make Westover more cost-effective

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Military Task Force wants to make Westover Air Reserve Base and the Metropolitan Airport a more cost-effective base.

The Military Task Force cannot stop the proposed aircraft and personnel cuts to Westover ARB.

Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe at Westover ARB in Chicopee told 22News, “The Task Force is here to support the base however it can. We are different than Barnes in that the Air Force side of Westover is federally run.”

However, it can help minimize the impact of losing eight C-5 cargo jets and hundreds of reservist positions.

“We’re working as hard as we can to let the Air Force know that we have a strong plan,” said Adam Freudberg, the Executive Director of the Task Force. “Westover is a unique base. It can take new missions. It can keep eight C-5’s.”

The Task Force, along with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and other agencies, will spend the next four months, looking into cost-efficient ways to operate the military base and the airport next to it, while attracting new businesses.

There are two runways at the Metropolitan Airport. Both are shared by civilian planes that take off and land here and the military planes at the base.

Domer Ringuette of Chicopee said he would like to see the metropolitan airport grow. “I believe they should make this a commercial airport. We can fly people to other airports, you know, and make it more convenient for here, plus it’ll bring jobs.

The four-month study will include an energy-efficiency study and infrastructure upgrade possibilities. Governor Deval Patrick and the Task Force will use that information to craft a plan.

Many people hope the task force’s plan will help minimize the impact of those cuts.

According to Allan Blair, President of Westover Metropolitan Development Corp., “Some reduction in personnel, which affects the spending in the region and so on. So we are worried from the perspective. We don’t think it’ll affect the civilian aviation operations because they are still going to have maintained the very high standards that they maintain.”

Governor Patrick signed a Military Bond Bill in to law, which gives future Mass. governors an option to spend up to $177 million to help military bases in Mass.

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