Legislature approves funding increase at special meeting

MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Legislature has approved a $129,022 funding increase for the Dunkirk airport.

The legislature met Monday for a special meeting to discuss additional funding for the Dunkirk airport. The additional funding was requested for obstruction removal.

The total cost of the project is $329,022. According to the resolution, 90 percent – or $296,120 – would be covered by federal funds. The additional 10 percent would be covered at the state and local levels, and would cost $16,451 each.

In 2010, the legislature had approved $200,000 for the project, which was never used. As a result, the legislature was asked to increase the appropriation by $129,022 in order to cover the entire project cost of $329,022.

According to Sam Arcadipane, director of airports and parks for the county, it was necessary to contract out the work to clear the obstructed area at the airport.

“Currently at the Dunkirk airport, there is one maintenance worker,” Arcadipane said. “Then, in the summertime, we receive summer help for approximately three months.”

Although the workers have worked on what they were able to safely handle in the area, Arcadipane said he feels it is unsafe to have his workers cut down trees around the power lines.

George Borrello, R-Irving, pointed out that regardless if legislators are for or against the sale of the airport at some point in time, it is still their responsibility to ensure it is safe.

“I for one, even though I’m in favor of privatizing the County Home, have supported the IGT funding for the same reason,” Borrello said. “I’m going to do what I can to manage the situation as best as possible.”

Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, visited the Dunkirk airport prior to Monday’s meeting.

“Yesterday morning, if you had asked me if I was in favor of this, I would have said no,” Barmore admitted.

However, after visiting the airport, speaking to the engineers and touring the areas in question, he said he has seen there were there are safety issues.

“More than anything else, what it is is a gathering place for wildlife,” Barmore said. “If you’ve ever flown an airplane, the absolute worst thing that can happen to you while taking off or landing is to have a flock of birds or deer fly or run in front of you.”

The resolution passed 16-5. Four legislators were absent from the meeting.