Saturday, December 20, 2014

Picente: exploring options to keep Griffiss Tower open
By NEWSChannel 2 Staff

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says that he is actively pursuing options for the Griffiss International Airport Tower to remain open for business.

On March 22, the FAA announced it would close the 149 Control Towers over a four-week period beginning on April 7, including the tower at Griffiss Airport. The closures are the result due to automatic budget cuts that were triggered by sequestration.

Picente met with airport officials as well as the major tenants at Griffiss to discuss options to secure a seamless transition from an FAA Control Tower to a Control Tower that remains open without federal funding.

"I have met with our partners at the Airport and discussed the best options moving forward. While some partners are more directly affected than others, we all agreed that the tower closure was not in the best interest of the airport and our community. We have discussed every available option and I have directed my staff to move forward to guarantee the most affordable possibility that will result in a seamless transition." Picente said.

The Griffiss air traffic control service contract is scheduled for termination barring any modification by the FAA. County Executive Picente and Congressman Richard Hanna, along with other officials went through the appeal process with the FAA to highlight the apparent affect to national interest they say closing the tower would have. The appeal was denied by the FAA.

"What Washington has done with Sequestration is not a cost savings but a cost shift," Picente said. "They haven't saved the taxpayer a dime. They haven't looked for one real way to save the taxpayer money. The Tower is essential, so they cut funding and now we have to pay for it."