Stop privatization of Westchester County Airport
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We urge the Westchester County Board of Legislators to end all plans to privatize Westchester County Airport.
Signing this petition is good, but calling or writing your county legislator is better. Find your legislator here.
Additionally, we have a paper petition here that, with enough signatures, would require the county to put some terms of the privatization to a popular vote. You can print out the paper petition, sign it and share it with your neighbors, then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a suitable date/time/place to pick it up.
We have a new website that will be updated with action items and more information.
The airport master plan calls for dramatic expansion
- Predicts a 68% increase in airline flights on large jets by 2032 by ignoring laws that limit airline traffic.
- Calls for a 50% increase in overnight parking for airliners to facilitate more early morning departures.
Reserves space next to the terminal for “future modernization” and recommends adding two gates.
- Calls for $153 million in public funds to build and renovate facilities for corporate jets
- Calls for $49.5 million in public funds to build two new parking garages serving the airline terminal with about 1700 spaces
Privatization will inevitably lead to expansion and increased noise
- While county law restricts airline to 240 passengers and 4 arrivals or departures per half hour, airlines could schedule 2.6x the number of flights today without any change in the law.
- There are no constraints on the number of private flights. These flights account for 90% of airport operations and a majority of noise complaints and curfew violations.
- Private traffic could shift to Westchester from Teterboro Airport in NJ, which has strict noise restrictions that we do not have. If all of the flights at Teterboro came to Westchester, we would have double the flights we have today
- Private operators are seeking at least 9-11% returns on our “underutilized” airport by making “capacity enhancing capital expenditures.” The easiest way to the desired profits is increased aircraft traffic.
- Expansion will increase aircraft noise, air pollution, motor vehicle traffic, and the threat of contamination of the Kensico Reservoir.
Privatization will threaten our drinking water and put the county at financial risk
- Some stormwater from the airport flows into the Kensico Reservoir, which supplies 90% of the water in NYC and much of Westchester. Over 9 million people get their drinking water from the reservoir, which is not filtered before it is delivered to taps. Under county control, millions have been spent to minimize and monitor the flow of airport stormwater into the Kensico Reservoir.
- After Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY was privatized in 1999, carcinogenic PFOS was discovered in the City of Newburgh’s water supply, making it unsafe to drink. The PFOS was traced back to stormwater from the airport. 29,000 people were exposed to the contaminated water, and the airport was declared a state Superfund site. Tests have shown elevated levels of PFOS in the exposed residents’ blood, and it takes years for the body to eliminate these chemicals. Stewart is the only airport in the USA to have been privatized.
- A filtration plant to deal with contamination of the Kensico Reservoir could cost over $12 billion. The potential proceeds from privatization are insignificant by comparison.
- The private operator is required to maintain only $5 million per incident and $10 million total of pollution insurance. This is inadequate to clean up a chemical or fuel spill into the Kensico Reservoir.
Privatization will cause a loss of accountability and create harmful conflicts of interest
- Privatization will fundamentally change the relationship between the airport and the community. Rather than being subject to regular and continuing public oversight, the next 30-40 years of decisions at the airport can be made in private as long as they conform to the law and the terms of the lease.
- Privatization will incentivize the county to operate the airport for maximum profit by increasing traffic, decreasing security, or decreasing environmental protections. The county could change laws to accommodate the private operator.
- The private operator will maximize profits, perhaps at the expense of the community. Regulatory oversight of for-profit enterprises is difficult and prone to cheating, as we saw in the financial crisis.
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