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Proposed airport land purchase irks county politician

Queensbury at-large supervisor Mark Westcott makes a point about capping spending during a recent meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors. Westcott urged the board July 20 to do what they could to avoid spending $700,000 to purchase land near the airport that the Federal Aviation Administration has deemed necessary to assure safety for planes landing on the county airport's backup runway.

Queensbury at-large supervisor Mark Westcott makes a point about capping spending during a recent meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors. Westcott urged the board July 20 to do what they could to avoid spending $700,000 to purchase land near the airport that the Federal Aviation Administration has deemed necessary to assure safety for planes landing on the county airport's backup runway. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Warren County leaders voted July 20 to apply for a $700,000 grant to buy land and easements east of the county airport’s secondary runway to meet Federal Aviation Administration mandates, but one local politician questioned the expenditure of taxpayer money.

Queensbury supervisor-at-Large Mark Westcott contended that such a sum shouldn’t be spent on accommodating a backup runway.

“I’m supportive of keeping county airport in business, but I have serious reservations about the money,” he said. “The airport has operated successfully for decades without the purchase of land.”

But county Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson countered that for years, the county had been on notice from the FAA that it needed to eliminate hazards — mainly trees — near the runway. Tennyson said that if the county did not make progress in meeting the FAA mandates, the agency could force the county to shorten the runway. The measure passed with all supervisors but Westcott voting for it.

In other business, the county leaders:

• Approved drafting a contract with Edward Zibro to lease the Warren County Fairgrounds in 2013 for the Warrensburg Bike Rally, with an option to return for five years — subject to annual endorsement by the county and town of Warrensburg. The rally is held before and during the annual Americade rally, generally the first week in June. Queensbury at-large supervisor David Strainer called for the contract to include specific dates for the rally rather than vague terms, so the agreement wouldn’t deter others from reserving the facilities.

"The fairgrounds are a great asset, and they are totally underutilized,” he said.

• Authorized an agreement with Washington County to provide backup emergency dispatch services in case of an outage. The Warren County supervisors decided to pursue the agreement after Verizon recently demanded $249,000 from the county for software and hardware upgrades for their in-house backup 911 system that Verizon engineered but said they’d no longer support without the upgrades.

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