Saturday, July 20, 2013

County leaders wonder about Warren County airport grant payback: Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport (KGFL), Glens Falls, New York

QUEENSBURY -- Town Supervisor Ron Montesi wants a determination whether Warren County would have to repay about $800,000 in grant funding if the county halts its plan to expand the runway at Warren County airport.

“It’s an important consideration,” he said.

Queensbury at-large Supervisor Mark Westcott, a leader of a taxpayer group opposed to expanding the airport, said the county should not move forward, even if it does have to return the money, some of which has already been spent.

“I had a good professor (at Duke University) who said, ‘Don’t throw good money after bad,’” he said, at a Board of Supervisors meeting on Friday.

Later in the meeting, the board voted 17-2, with one supervisor absent, on two resolutions associated with the runway expansion.

The board authorized applying for up to $1.11 million in Federal Aviation Administration and state Department of Transportation grant funding to buy land and aviation easements for the runway approach.

The board also authorized applying, separately, for up to $1.15 million in FAA and DOT grant funding to remove about 70 acres of trees in the runway approach, install three obstruction light towers, and landscape a buffer area along Queensbury Avenue.

The grants have local matching fund requirements of $55,500 and $57,500 respectively.

Westcott and Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow voted against both resolutions.

The remaining 17 supervisors present voted in favor. Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino was absent at that point in the meeting.

Upstate New York Taxpayer Advocates, a local political advocacy group on fiscal issues, has been pushing to halt the runway expansion.

Critics have questioned the cost and need for the expansion, and said increased air traffic might be disturbing.

Supporters of expanding the runway have said it will help attract new employers and retain existing ones.

Montesi asked that county Administrator Paul Dusek, County Attorney Martin Auffredou and county Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson determine whether the county would have to pay back grant money already received, if the county halts the project.

Dusek said the county has spent $380,000 in federal grant funding on the project so far, and has received another $423,000 in grant funding that the county has committed to spend, but has not yet actually spent.


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