TICONDEROGA - The refurbished Ticonderoga airport is open for business.
A grand opening ceremony July 27 marked the completion of a five-year, $3.2 million renovation project at the facility located off Shore Airport Road.
"It's been a lot of work, but well worth it," said Steve Whitford, Ti trustee and chairman of the town airport committee. "I have high hopes for the airport."
The project leveled and repaved the runway, created a turning area for planes, erected security fencing, installed new wind socks and runway lights, and moved utility lines to allow for future expansion.
The $8 million for the project came from the Federal Aviation Administration and cost taxpayers nothing, Whitford stressed.
"People say if the money comes from the federal government it's still tax money," he said. "In this case, that's not true."
A portion of every airline ticket sold in the U.S. goes to the FAA for airport rehabilitation, Whitford explained. It's the flying public that paid for the Ti project.
The Ticonderoga airport handles 11,000 landings and take-offs a year, according to the FAA.
"A lot of people think there's only a plane a day or a week that uses the airport," he said. "There are planes in and out of there all day."
The town budget includes $20,000 annually for airport support, but Whitford believes the facility will be self-sustaining within a year. A hanger at the airport is now leased and plans call for the town to start charging for plane tie-downs in the near future.
"My goal is to make that airport totally tax free," Whitford said. "We're close now. I think the tie-down fee will generate enough money (to cover airport expenses)."
Work at the local airport may not be finished.
Whitford hopes to install an automated fuel service for planes. He explained there are few airports in the area with fuel and most of those charge planes a fee for landing and fueling. Ti, he said, would charge only for the fuel, making it an attractive option for flyers.
"I think we could generate a lot of money by providing fuel," Whitford said.
The cost of an automated fuel service will be upwards of $500,000. That money, too, will come from the FAA, Whitford said.
"There will be no tax dollars spent at the airport," he stressed.
Whitford is also hoping to attract a delivery deport - like UPS or FedEx - to the airport. He noted the nearest delivery depots are now in Burlington and Albany.
The recently-completed work at the Ti airport puts it in a position to handle more planes and to solicit more business, he said.
"I have high hopes for that airport," Whitford said. "I think we can build it into something special."
Ti Supervisor Deb Malaney agrees.
"I think the airport is a real asset to our local economy," she said. "Steve's done a lot there and I think we can do even more."