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Stratford airport gets new name as some decry lack of public input

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) — One of Connecticut’s airports has a new name.

Bridgeport city officials approved the renaming of Igor Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford as the Bridgeport Igor Sikorsky Memorial Airport. The Connecticut Post reportedthe move was made Friday without public input, and was a do-over of a vote earlier in the week that wasn’t properly noticed under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The airport has been named since 1972 after Sikorsky, the Russian-born aviation innovator who invented the first practical helicopter and founded the Stratford-based aircraft manufacturing company that bears his name.

Sikorsky’s sons, who are in their 90s, and a local group, Friends of Sikorsky, opposed the name change. Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick, the lone non-Bridgeport official on the four-member airport commission and the only one to vote against the change, lamented the lack of public comment. Hoydick wrote in a newsletter to constituents that the change "diminished the honor given to the airport’s namesake and the importance of this aviation and engineering giant to the history and industry of our region.”

The head of the group had requested an opportunity to speak before the vote, the Post reported. Municipal boards can allow allow public comments but aren't required to, according to the state Freedom of Information Commission.

Though the airport is in Stratford, Bridgeport has operated it since 1937 — and for years at a deficit — under various names. The name change is part of Mayor Joe Ganim's rebranding initiative, which includes returning regular passenger service to the airport, which now serves business, charter and private flights.

“We have carried a big, big burden with the airport but we never drop it cause we knew we were providing jobs and had hopes (for its success),” Bridgeport City Clerk Lydia Martinez, one of the three city officials who voted for the change, told the Post.

City officials also hope to eventually lease or sell the operation of the airport to the Connecticut Airport Authority, which also operates Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks and several smaller airports, the Post reported.

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