North Adams Offers New Airport Lease Terms

Jul 25, 2018

The North Adams Airport Commission released the terms of its new leases at its meeting Tuesday.

Following an emotional June meeting in which the commission allowed businessman Alex Kelly — a convicted rapist and sex offender who now owns and operates two skydiving companies in North Adams and Bennington, Vermont —  use of the classroom space in the Shamrock Hangar, the city presented the new conditions he and other tenants of the public airport would have to accept.

“The hangars, we’re going to keep the base rent of $3,000 a year, $250 a month," said Michael Canales, the Administrative Officer of North Adams. He presented the terms at the commission meeting. For tenants of the Civil Air Patrol building — the lease specifically identifies the Mohawk Soaring Club, which is entitled to five tie-downs for aircraft in the document — the lease requires a flat annual fee of $600 as well as the cleaning and custodial maintenance of the facility.

“The classroom space — approximately 80 square foot classroom space lease. This would be — the base rent would just be in exchange for what was offered in the statement of interest, which is custodial services and keeping the area clean,” said Canales at the meeting.

That’s the space that Kelly and his Berkshire Skydiving business currently occupy. All three leases have one thing in common.

“This would be a three-year term," said Canales, "with a termination of convenience clause in there that if we give 30 days’ notice to said insurer of said notice that we can terminate the lease.”

The strict terms of the termination clause allow the city to publicly notify tenants that their lease is cancelled “at any time for convenience.”

Kelly expressed surprise and confusion at the meeting, requesting an executive session to negotiate the terms of the lease — an opportunity he claimed Canales promised him, which Canales denies. Kelly made an appeal to Airport Commission Chairperson Jeffrey McNaughton.

“So what, we’re going to negotiate the lease in public?” asked Kelly.

“No, we’re not,” responded McNaughton.

Canales told Kelly that the leases had been finalized, and tenants could voluntarily opt into them or leave the airport. Mike Milazzo, a longtime airport user who has stood by Kelly over months of controversy surrounding his presence at the facility, was also upset by the lease’s terms.

“You’re not giving anybody — be it someone who’s investing money in an airplane or a business — any real strong footing to stand on," said Milazzo. "You’re saying, you’ve got a three-year lease, but the city can terminate in 30 days. That’s a month-to-month, why are we messing around with leases at all? It’s truly a non-lease.”

All current tenants have until August 15th to sign the leases.