County committee meeting on airport/Ballston Journal

County Kills Proposals to Expand Airport Runway

BALLSTON SPA – The proposals to expand the main runway at Saratoga County Airport in Milton were rejected Monday by the Building and Grounds Committee of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.

Building and Grounds Committee/Ballston Journal

Building and Grounds Committee

The meeting was attended by Paul Sausville, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, who afterward told the Journal  that he agreed with the committee’s actions. Regarding the proposals to expand the runway, Sausville, the Malta supervisor, said: “I don’t think that’s going anywhere.”

The committee did agree to consider three proposals put forward by the county’s consultants, McFarland Johnson, that do not involve expanding the runway. But committee Chairman Dan Lewza, the Milton supervisor, and other members said that did not mean they supported aspects of the proposal that involve taking additional land or cutting trees. Lewza said he would only support proposals that had no impact beyond the airport property.

No committee members favored the expansion, although one abstained because of a conflict of interest, being a board member of the Gateway House of Peace, which would be demolished under either of the two runway expansion proposals.

The committee meeting started with the reading of a Milton Town Board resolution that had been passed Monday morning, supporting Lewza’s position and opposing the proposals to expand the runway by either 300 or 800 feet. Both of those proposals would involve taking of private property in the Rowland Street area, if necessary by eminent domain. After the resolution was read by Milton Councilman Frank Blaisdell, there was loud applause from the large crowd packing the meeting room of the county Board of Supervisors.

Dan Lewza being interviewed after the meeting.

Dan Lewza being interviewed after the meeting.

Michael L. Churchill, senior project manager for McFarland Johnson, said the Federal Aviation Authority has been pressing for tree removals around the airport for safety reasons. In 2008, he noted, a plane clipped trees there, and the county’s tree-cutting project has not been completed. There are currently trees that are too tall in the approaches to runways, he said, which “need to be addressed.” However, after the meeting, Churchill told the Journal: “I don’t see the FAA saying you must expand the runway.”

The resolution passed by the town of Milton stated that the motivation for the expansion proposals appears to be economic, to encourage sales of fuels and enable bigger planes and more numerous flights to use the airport.

Churchill said the airport is currently under FAA restrictions on nighttime use, and while the county hopes to resolve that, “One of the issues is trees.”

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Reporter Bob Conner has worked 21 years in various positions at the Gazette of Schenectady, and before that four years as a reporter at the Glens Falls Post-Star. He won two first-place writing awards from the New York Associated Press Association for newspapers with circulation between 50,000 and 250,000. Bob has a Phi Beta Kappa bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University, and an associate’s degree in chemical dependency counseling from HVCC. He is a published author and is currently writing a historical novel about the last four months in the life of Ulysses S.Grant


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