The Business Council of Westchester attended a press conference on Monday, August 13, held by Westchester County Executive George Latimer to discuss the future of Westchester County Airport. Below is a statement that was issued by the BCW to the news media on behalf of the Coalition for Westchester Airport.
The Business Council of Westchester is deeply concerned about the future operation and health of the Westchester County Airport. As a result, we recently announced the formation of the Coalition for the Westchester Airport to provide a unified voice for the airport business and employment community, as well as the interests of the business and general traveling public. In the coming weeks the coalition will be an active participant in the dialogue.
We support an approach to this invaluable economic and community asset that strikes a balance between providing air travel services, protecting the environment and respecting the airport’s residential neighbors.
The Westchester Airport is integral to the county’s economic foundation. It is crucially important in both attracting and retaining a wide spectrum of business that bolster our economy and strengthen our tax base. The Airport directly and indirectly employs more than two thousand people ranging from highly trained pilots and technicians to those providing a myriad of essential support services from baggage handling, to cleaning, to security.
We support the Latimer administration’s thorough and careful review of issues of concern including environmental safety, noise and operations. However, we are concerned that the highly-charged rhetoric and grossly exaggerated claims being made by a well-organized group of opponents of the airport threaten to overwhelm the public discourse. Their comments begin with an oft-repeated statement that the airport is in danger of becoming “LaGuardia North.” This claim is patently absurd under any circumstance, beginning with the airport’s location adjacent to the Kensico Reservoir and surrounded by highly valuable residential and institutional uses. Such an expansion would have no government or public support. It is not even a remote possibility and suggesting otherwise is irresponsible.
The 2017 RFP process for a proposed public-private partnership approach to managing the airport required in-depth study of the issues confronting the airport and its operations. The current Chairman of the County Board of Legislators and the Chair of its Infrastructure Committee were on the review team and are familiar with these studies. As part of the current study we recommend the information contained in the RFP responses be examined, as they contain many practical and effective ways of addressing the ongoing issues involving the airport.
The Westchester County Airport has been successfully operating for seventy years, and always under private management selected by and reporting to the county. There is no reason this record of cooperation and reasoned discussion should suddenly change now. We encourage the County Executive to pursue a balanced approach to the future of the airport based on the interests of all of Westchester’s million residents.