The future of Westchester County Airport and its value to the business community was on the minds of at least some of the estimated 400 guests at a grand opening party for the newly expanded Million Air terminal on Feb. 28, which included a performance by musician Chris Isaak.
During the event, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino told the Business Journal that it’s appropriate for the administration of his successor, George Latimer, to be reviewing the proposal his administration had negotiated toward the end of his term for a private operator to take over the airport.
“I hope at one point they make the decision that we made and that putting a lot of money into this airport with private dollars will benefit all the taxpayers of Westchester, over a billion dollars, which will keep taxes down, improve services, but also improve the airport for the people who use it without having to give up anything for the environment, which would actually be more protected, and getting the strengths in the lease that we provided is really important,” he said. Astorinio expressed the hope that the Latimer administration embraces a public-private partnership for the airport. “There are other airports that are looking to do the exact same thing that we were trying to do here.”
Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont attended the event and pointed out that having the newly upgraded Million Air facility makes it even more attractive for business people coming for the redevelopment that is taking place along Westchester Avenue.
“To have a facility like this where corporate execs can fly in and out is magnificent for the town/village of Harrison. It puts us heads and shoulders above other communities in the Hudson Valley.”
Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester, told the Business Journal, “The airport is the welcoming center for the corporate community, and when major corporations come to look at a community and look to locate here, one of the first things that they look at is the quality of the airport.”
Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Ben Boykin pointed out that the expanded Million Air facilities that will serve general aviation aircraft operators will create employment in the community. “Those who run businesses will be flying in and out of here so that they can conduct business in Westchester County.”
The upgraded facilities represent a $70 million to $80 million investment on the part of Million Air, which operates at 31 airports in the U.S., Canada and other countries. It is headed by Roger Woolsey, who is a pilot himself and previously operated a company that specialized in flying star performers to concerts around the country. Some of the performers he’s flown include Sting, Billy Joel, Stevie Nicks, U2 and Elton John.