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Business Council Reactivates Coalition for Westchester County Airport
With County Executive George Latimer resuming his efforts to create a new Master Plan for Westchester County Airport, the Business Council of Westchester (BCW) has reactivated its Coalition for Westchester County Airport.
The Coalition was founded in 2017 to present a clear focus for the interests of the business community in planning the future of the county-owned airport. When Latimer took office in 2018, he announced that he would conduct a new review of the operations and develop an updated Master Plan. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the public discussion was put on hold and is only now re-starting.
BCW Executive Vice President and COO John Ravitz, who heads the Coalition, said, “We have advocated for a modern, safe and appropriately sized airport to serve what we refer to as the three C’s: the Traveling Community, the Business Community and the Neighboring Community. Each of these distinct constituencies has a stake in the airport and its operations, and their preferences deserve to be weighed and balanced.”
He noted that the airport plays a vital role in the transportation system and economy of the county and is essential in attracting and retaining businesses. In addition, it is a major employer providing more than 1,500 workers with a wide range of skilled, high-paying jobs.
The Westchester County Airport has been the subject of lengthy debate, and myths often compete with facts. One enduring myth is that Westchester County Airport is in danger of becoming LaGuardia North. Necessary improvements to existing facilities, like installing modern, technologically advanced services and systems that minimize noise, reduce unnecessary fights, and protect the environment are often portrayed by opponents as signs that LaGuardia is on its way.
Aircraft noise also veers from fact to fiction. When the county installed advanced noise monitoring devices to identify levels and violations, a small number of neighbors used electronic devices to flood the county monitoring office with thousands of automated complaints.
Environmental concerns including runoff into streams and the Kensico Reservoir have also been a battleground between fact and myth. County Executive Latimer recently stated that there is no runoff or contamination reaching the reservoir from the airport, and to say so “is a lie.”
“The Coalition recognizes that the airport provokes strong emotions. We respect the concerns that are expressed, while seeking to deal with facts rather than emotions. We will continue to do our part to present the facts and have an open, mature discussion on how to enhance—not expand—this key element in our transportation network and economy,” said Ravitz.
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