Updated 03/22/2013 08:43 PM
Two traffic control towers set to close
We now know which air traffic control towers across the country will close. Two of the 149 towers are in our region, in Ithaca and in Rome. Our Iris St. Meran has reaction from leaders in those areas and what they think the impact on those communities will be.
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UPSTATE NEW YORK -- Leaders in Ithaca and Rome knew this day could come. Friday, we learned officially from the FAA that 149 Air Traffic Control Towers, including ones at Ithaca Regional Airport and Griffiss International Airport in Rome, will close because of federal budget cuts.
"It's very disappointing, disturbing, frustrating that the FAA has made these kind of decisions and have taken again another blow to Central New York and in particular, upstate's economy,” said Anthony Picente, Oneida County Executive.
Ithaca Airport manager Bob Nicholas said it's unclear how the move will affect air services, but also said it’s disappointing and there will be jobs lost.
Picente said at Griffiss, there are three full-time controllers and some people who work part-time, but there will be even more people impacted. The tower is used by more than 40 in-house pilots, aircraft refurbishing businesses, and the military.
"There's a military contract on repairs. The military uses it for touch and goes and training exercises, staging area and emergency situations, and disaster situations," said Picente.
Picente says his goal is to keep the towers open because he says it is very much needed. But, that comes with a price. The current contract is more than $400,000. Next week, he will have meetings to develop a short and long term plan.
The closures are expected to begin April seventh. Nicholas said he's been in touch with Senator Schumer's office and hopes for some sort of resolution before the closure goes into effect.