County Executive George Latimer promoted his administration’s environmental upgrades at Westchester County Airport this week, balancing neighboring communities’ sensitivity to noise and pollution concerns with maintaining a facility that is critical for regional business.
During a press conference Wednesday at the largely empty airport, Latimer said the Board of Legislators recently approved a $3.75 million bond to complete remediation measures to Outflow No. 7 as part of the airport’s storm drain replacement project while all permanent airport noise monitors have been upgraded. The monitors have also been coordinated with the complaint handling system.
“We needed to make sure that this airport, first of all, did not expand, which we’ve honored that commitment, that it maintains itself under government control so that the town supervisors, the county legislature, the county executive branch would continue to manage the airport and be responsive to the people of Westchester County, and then in addition to that make this as friendly a neighbor as is possible given the fact it is an airport,” Latimer said.
Other steps taken by Latimer during the past few years include completion of its air emissions inventory, which found significantly reduced air emissions compared with 2007 and ongoing water testing and monitoring, PFAS site remediation and deicing improvements, all through an executive order. PFAS had been used in firefighting exercises at the airport.
Latimer said that the steps to protect the nearby water bodies is a critical issue for the county and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. There is a drinking watershed to the north and the Blind Brook that leads into Long Island Sound to the south, so part of being a good neighbor is to protect these water supplies.
“We have to make sure there is not pollution of our water system,” Latimer said. “There is not anybody here that isn’t committed to the future of the airport that isn’t also committed to the drinking water quality in our watershed.”
County Legislator Nancy Barr (D-Rye Brook) said the recent passage of the $3.75 million bond by the Board of Legislators and the emphasis on water quality is crucial
“We recognize that it’s a wonderful resource, the airport, but it’s also a great responsibility, but in order to take that responsibility seriously we need to know what is actually happening there and the types of measures that we’ve been able to do with the county executive’s help are really measure that will help us keep tabs on the health and safety of the residents,” Barr said.
Latimer said the airport Master Plan update process, which was scheduled to begin last year when the pandemic hit, has been postponed until the COVID-19 crisis has abated. He said the update is too important to complete without input from the public in face-to-face meetings.
The airport Master Plan was last updated in 1989.