Construction of two classrooms for the State's "Emergency Preparedness Center" will begin next month in the LOBBY of the Oneida County Airport Terminal, with a second construction phase commencing in October for more classrooms. The State intends to lease the County facility.
Of course, this will ensure that the facility (UCA) is never again used as an airport. This is an incredible waste of a perfectly good terminal and airstrip the marketing of which had not even been attempted.
While the O-D gushes about "name recognition" and the unspecified economic benefits the training center will spin-off, there are some warnings buried in the verbiage.
"The state continues to be confident that 400 to 500 people a week will travel to the emergency preparedness facility, and would like to offer first responders some incentives for attending courses." If incentives need to be offered, it suggests that the market for such a facility may not be there.
"State officials are trying to provide some college credit and certification" which means they haven't even linked up with an institution yet.
The lease of the facility and the paltry sum the State is investing shows the State's lack of commitment. (Compare this project with the "real committment" shown to two Binghamton projects in the article below.) The project does, however, bail out our Board of Legislators who previously decided to spend $millions to transfer UCA's functions to Griffiss without any plan whatsoever for UCA.
The bailout, and some positive press for local Albany representatives, is the only sure thing from this fiasco. Don't expect this project to transform the local economy.
On page 2A of the 3/24 O-D there was a related story about how the Airport Reuse Committee had asked the State Homeland Security officials several questions concerning the state 's use of UCA only to have Board of Legislators Chairman Fiorini abruptly end the meeting before the questions could be answered. Fiorini was quoted as saying: " Homeland security is here... Homeland security is going to be here. You're going to have to work around it." More is available on this from the 3/25 Sentinel which indicates that the best land may be going to the state.
Who is Mr. Fiorini to cut off the Public's right to know how THEIR facilities and tax dollars are going to be used? What is this? A dictatorship?
It's obvious that the Airport Reuse Committee is merely window dressing. In fact, THEY should have been consulted before the decision was even made to locate Homeland Security at UCA. As I said earlier, this training center scheme is nothing but a Bailout out for our County officials. Fiorini's statement should make that even more clear. No, Sir ... There is no way to mistake who is in charge and what is really going on.
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