"It could work out to be very good for the county," Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said.
How did Mr. Picente come to this conclusion? Was he told something specific that impressed him? Was he shown a marketing study that demonstrates that a demand exists for the proposed facility's services? Was he shown a study demonstrating that people or other government agencies would be willing to pay for them? Was he shown a significant financial commitment on the part of the state beyond $6 million (which is only "chump" change compared to other state investments in education facilities elsewhere)? Or is Mr. Picente just engaging in pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking?
While awaiting the airport's move to Griffiss is offered as the excuse for the state's relative inactivity, it does not explain the lack of a lease. Seven months after destroying the terminal and opening to (few) classes:
"The details of the lease still are being worked out."
Looking at the state's plans as revealed today, several alternatives come readily to mind which require little to no construction and offer distinct advantages:
- "A driving course with twists and turns" - Why not use Route 51 through Ilion Gorge? This road not only presents challenges, it comes complete with a water hazard!
- "A mock Main Street with buildings" - How about Utica State Hospital? It not only has many abandoned buildings, but a high rise is included!
- "Space to simulate a hazardous materials incident" - Harbor Point is the obvious choice here. Chemicals are already in the ground, ready to be sampled!
Little to no attempt was made to market the old O.C. Airport for its "perfect-fit" use: as an airstrip with related uses. Maybe the County is afraid of creating competition for itself -- but that should be no excuse for not seeking to give the taxpayers the greatest potential return for their already substantial investment there. Honda Aircraft recently announced that it would be constructing business jets at the airport in Greensboro, NC, creating over 200 jobs averaging over $70,000 a year. Did anyone from here court them? The entire airstrip and related buildings could have been made available for their private use. There might be other potential customers -- but we'll never know if we don't look for them.
Homeland Security will be nothing but insecurity for us if we go along with the state's plans and wait and hope for something good to happen.