Airport Blames Obama Motorcade For Ruined Runway

September 30, 2011

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A tiny Massachusetts airport is suing the US Secret Service saying an unauthorised motorcade for President Barack Obama last year caused USD$676,000 in damage to its only airstrip.

Obama will not be welcome again at Marlboro Airport, located in the city of Marlborough, Massachusetts, without all parties signing a prior agreement specifying "who will be responsible for what", Robert Stetson, the airport's majority-owner, told reporters.

That's because the array of vehicles, including SUVs, fire trucks, armed limousines and police cars, that met the Marine One helicopter when it landed on April 1, 2010, wrecked the 1,659 foot asphalt runway and surrounding turf, said Stetson.

Obama's visit to the region came after it was hit by severe flooding.

While the helicopter did have permission to use the airstrip, located about 30 miles west of Boston, Stetson said the vehicles in Obama's motorcade were not cleared to use it, because it's designed only for light aircraft.

When he saw the damage after the visit, Stetson said he was "annoyed."

"Having experienced this, I would not welcome the Commander-in-Chief back here until we had some kind of before-the-fact written understanding of who was responsible for what," Stetson said in an interview.

The airport's owners filed an Unfair and Deceptive Trade lawsuit this week against the Secret Service, seeking USD$676,000 for the damage, and an additional amount for legal fees, Stetson said. The suit alleges the Secret Service did not verify the airport's weight limits.

The case was filed in US District Court in Worcester, Massachusetts, where authorities said a summons had been issued to the Secret Service but a response had not yet been received.

Stetson said the airstrip has not been repaired, due to a lack of funds, but it still is serviceable.

Marlboro Airport is a privately owned, public use airport. It sits on private property controlled by a real estate corporation in which Stetson and his wife are majority owners.

Stetson said he sued after other efforts he made to satisfy his claim failed.

(Reuters)