Westchester County Airport Terminal
WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. By John F. Bailey. August 13, 2018:
It will be months, well into 2019 OR 2020 perhaps before any directions and decisions on the Westchester County Airport future will be made.
That was clear after the early afternoon news conference today at Westchester County Executive George Latimer (above) held at the airport above.
The County Executive said the next steps in deciding the future of the airport would be to develop a supplemental Master Plan to address the county vision for the facility in view of the age of the previous master plan to counter Federal Aviation Administration criticism of the current Master Plan including “Lack of a Strategic Vision.”
To help the county execute the supplement, Latimer said a new consultant would be hired that would work on the Master Plan. That consultant has not been hired yet.
Latimer said comments from public hearings two months ago would be considered in creating the new plan, as well as comments from the Board of Legislators and the Board reactions.
As part of that review the matters of governance of the airport, possibilities for the airport future and its management, presumably from a financial standpoint would be reviewed.
Asked by WPCNR if a leasing of the airport to an independent airport managent company with more profit to the county,and a contract that gave Westchester County jurisdiction over any changes any potential lessor wanted to make in the airport would possibly be considered in the Master Plan. Mr. Latimer did not rule such proposals out,nor did he say he would consider such proposals.
Early in the news conference, Latimer disparaged former County Executive Robert Astorino’s lease plan that gave up county control of the airport in a long term lease deal that would have balanced the 2018 budget. The County Board of Legislators declined to consider that plan.
Mr. Latimer did not rule out exploring any such proposals that kept county control of the airport with more lucrative financial returns to the county, and a shorter duration of contract. Whether the master plan preparation will explore leasing with a new start is not apparent, nor ruled out.
(One of the major flaws of the Robert Astorino Administration plan to lease the airport was its duration, 40 years, lack of adequate revenues and the county giving up control of the airport, to fill the 2018 budget gap ).
He said the former airport lease plan, (that the Westchester County Board of Legislators declined to consider in December), has expressed interest in revising their proposal, and if they wanted to come up with a new proposal, they would be welcome to do that. He said emphatically to one reporter that original proposal was dead. “It ceased to exist January 1,” he said
Meanwhile, Mr. Latimer announced county airport intiatives on complaints and issues expressed during the public hearings in June.
Joan McDonald, Director of Operations for the County announced the county would be purchasing 10 new portable state-of-the-art Noise Measurement devices (shown above), and would upgrade the existing 6 monitors. She said the 10 new monitors should be operative by the end of this month. McDonald said the county was organizing a new automated complaint system consumers could use to report their observations.
John Nonna, the county attorney said the county is working with the Department of Environmental Conservation to measure and monitor drain off into the Kensico Resevoir (off Runway 34), and has located 49 monitoring wells at the airport. Nonna said those wells would begin to be monitored August 31.
The wells have not been monitored since 2007 (during the Andrew Spano and Robert Astorino administrations), according to the county news release on today’s conference.
The county news release also stated the last air quality emissions report was from 2007.
Nonna announced that monitoring of air quality from aircraft exhaust would also be upgraded and the county was working with DEC to ascertain equipment to monitor air pollution. He said it would take four months before readings on air quality from the new monitors would be available.
Mr. Latimer said the county would begin to consider the 2019 county budget September 10 as to what options the county had in filling the reported gap in the budget, previously reported by the county auditors as $47 Million.
(Editor’s Nate:) To date the county sales tax receipts through July are on a pace to deliver half of that deficit by the end of the year. Another option the county has to consider to eliminate the alleged deficit, is to raise the county sales tax by ¼% which according to the auditors would address the present rate of growth of county expenses for the next two years.