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Green Airport hires lobbyist to work on runway extension issue

December 12, 2011

The Rhode Island Airport Corporation has hired Warwick lawyer K. Joseph Shekarchi to lobby the Warwick City Council on the prickly issue of   the council’s plan to intervene legally in the runway extension project slated for Green State Airport, says Kevin Dillon, ceo of the airport corporation.

Shekarchi, who is no stranger to politics, will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the council, which recently voted unanimously to hire a California law firm to challenge the federal government’s decision to give a green light to the project, which would extend the runway to accommodate larger jet planes and build additional safety features at the state’s largest airport.

Shekarchi, a Democrat, worked for former Gov. Bruce Sundlun, who led a major airport upgrade in the 1990s. Shekarchi more recently was campaign manager in 2010 for State General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

Dillon said Shekarchi and airport officials are still working out his lobbying compensation.

The airport corporation and state political, organized labor and business leaders, including Governor Lincoln Chafee, have been urging moving quickly to build the new runway and safety features, a $166 million project that was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration after more than a decade of hearings. But Warwick council members, who represent homeowners near the runway, have asserted that more legal challenges are need to fully vet environmental concerns associated with more jets.

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