Westchester County has launched a program designed to involve the business community, environmental activists, civic organizations and residents in the planning for the future of Westchester County Airport.
Some environmentalists and airport neighbors have voiced concerns about negative effects from noise as well as ground and water pollution. The concept of privatizing the airport also has been raised in the past.
The new Community Engagement Program is intended to support the effort to create a new master plan supplement for the airport. The program is being named “On the Horizon.” The supplement will focus on analysis of the airport with respect to the physical condition of the property, buildings and infrastructure, additional analysis of noise and environmental impacts and the local and regional economic impact of the airport. This analysis will be used to develop a vision for the airport.
Merchant Aviation, an aviation consulting firm focused on airport development and based in Summit, New Jersey, has been hired to provide a report of the economic value and environmental impacts of the airport for the supplement.
Public relations firm Arch Street Communications has been tasked with engaging the public throughout the process. The White Plains-based firm advertises that it helps clients communicate about issues such as transportation, safety, energy, jobs and the environment.
The announcement about the new program was made at the airport on Feb. 27. County Executive George Latimer stressed the importance of hearing from residents.
“The airport is an essential part of our county and my administration has made a commitment to a thorough evaluation of airport operations and its impacts as well as new vision for the airport based on greater participation from the public,” Latimer said. “Whether you use the airport to fly with your family to Florida, to pick up your parents who are visiting for the winter, or you use the airport for business travel, we need to hear from you.”
Bridget Gibbons, the county’s director of economic development, said, ““The airport plays a significant role in the economic development of the county. This master plan supplement and the feedback from the business community will be vital in shaping a vibrant economic landscape in Westchester County in the years to come.”
Kiran Merchant, CEO of Merchant Aviation, expressed a commitment “to examine the infrastructure, environmental and economic development impacts of the facility, while listening carefully to community concerns.”
An initial public meeting for the Community Engagement Program is planned for March 19 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. A website has been established for the program: onthehorizon914.com.