To the editor:

On July 14, Fryeburg voters will be asked to give a 99-year lease to the Eastern Slope Regional Airport Authority. Additionally, the airport authority is asking Fryeburg voters to allow building a commercial solar facility on airport property.

It’s Poland Spring all over again! Airport authority meetings remain closed to public attendance, and their plans for airport development remain a secret.

Executive committee members Donnie Thibodeau, Carl Thibodeau, Gene Bergoffen and Ed Bergeron remain unresponsive to public demands for more transparency.

Minutes of airport authority meetings have not been published on the airport’s webpage since 2018. Despite adding Eric Meltzer as the pilot liaison board member, knowledge of plans to build yet another commercial facility on airport land remained silent until published in The Conway Daily Sun.

Voters in 2017 voted down an article that would have allowed Nestle to build a Poland Spring water bottling plant at the Fryeburg airport. Non-aviation commercial businesses on airports are inherently unsafe. On June 1, 1999, American Airlines Flight 1420 departed a Little Rock (Ark.) national runway, colliding with illegal non-frangible structures built at the airport. Eleven people were killed, including the captain.

Even though the captain was directly responsible for multiple pilot errors contributing to his own death, a federal jury awarded the captain’s family $2 million in wrongful death damages. The jury concluded that the airport authority failed to comply with airport safety standards.

If allowed, similar errors made by the Eastern Slope Airport Authority may hold Fryeburg taxpayers accountable. Fryeburg voters should seriously question giving a long-term lease to an airport authority placing commercial operations above safety.

Steve Bender

Lovell, Maine

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