Rhode Island Airport's Chief Planner Steps Down

Laurie K. Cullen, who just three weeks ago briefed the board on options for building a longer main runway at Green, has resigned to spend more time with her children.

"It's certainly not the case" that planners are expected to defeat the city on airport expansion and serve only statewide interests, Brewer said.

Schuster and Soderstrum, he said, left to advance their careers and are "very happy" in their new jobs, Schuster at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and Soderstrum in aviation consulting.

When Cullen briefed the board two weeks ago, "she was reporting" on five expansion scenarios that the Federal Aviation Administration identified in an environmental study at Green, Brewer said.

"We could have had [the FAA's consultants on the study] come in and make the presentation," he said. "They would have made the exact same presentation."

"Laurie was absolutely right" when she said the state has to persuade the city to agree to further expansion, Brewer said.

"Four of the five alternatives show an impact on wetlands," he said, "and everyone knows that there is a concern that the City Council has veto power over any [state] permit that impacts wetlands within the city of Warwick."

Brewer praised Cullen and said her tenure, though brief, was an important one.

"I've known Laurie for 10 years and have nothing but the highest respect for her work ethic and what she brings to the table," he said. "That's why we hired her."

"She was putting in long hours, working weekends," he said. "She would go home, feed the kids, give them their baths and put them to bed, then work until the wee hours of the morning on RIAC work."

Cullen said, "It's my responsibility to find that balance and I never did. I don't blame anybody."

"I enjoy my work," she said. "Airports are very exciting, dynamic, diverse places to work, they really are." But at the same time, "my son went from 2 years old to 4 years old and I didn't see him."

"I want to get back to what's important to me, what has always been important to me, and that's my kids," she said.

Brewer said the corporation hopes to hire a new senior vice president before the end of June.


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