Tuesday, February 08, 2005

County Airport Move

Perhaps I'm the only one who feels this way, but I really have to question the wisdom of spending millions to move the county airport to Griffiss.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with the county airport as it is now. It is truly a beautiful, well kept facility. If market conditions were right, it is capable of supporting scheduled passenger service. It is appropriately sized for this market since Utica-Rome doesn't generate enough traffic to fill 747's. It has spawned an adjoining industrial/commercial area that supplies 100s of jobs.

So, if the current airport isn't "broke" -- why "fix" it?

Sounds like the county doesn't want the "albatross" of having to maintain two airports, so it does away with the smaller one. But the larger one is clearly OUTSIZED for this area -- far too big for passenger, charter, or cargo service.

The county needs to recognize the value of its existing airport, and treat Griffiss as a completely separate issue.
It is wasteful to spend millions to duplicate what we already have. It also is extremely risky because there are a lot of businesses dependant on the airport which might not tolerate the disruption of having to move. It will saddle the county with an abandoned facility to dispose of. It will depress the values of surrounding properties until disposition is resolved.

Griffiss has to be recognized for what it is -- a facility sized to provide international service. Utica-Rome does not have the population to make this go -- but all of Upstate does. While passenger service is already taken care of, cargo service may not be. There was talk several years ago about expanding Hancock in Syracuse for this, but there is no room there.

The county is taking risks anyway -- I'd rather take a risk on losing money in trying to establish a cargoport at Griffiss (hopefully to create an economic engine that will spawn 100s of jobs), than on losing the nice airport we have now just to avoid taking care of two airports.


[For FOLLOWUP COMMENTS see Utica Area Discussions]

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