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Skaneateles Airport grants move forward

After a housing development scheme failed to pass town of Skaneateles Zoning regulations on the 98-acre site of the Skaneateles Aero Drome, Mike Falcone purchased the property.

Falcone already owned a host of acreage around this airport located on Benson Road on the westside of Skaneateles Lake, including his lakeside home, several guest houses, a vineyard and the Hobbitt Hollow Bed and Breakfast, which is a working horse farm.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Skaneateles Airport is categorized as a privately owned, public use, utility category, reliever airport. The airport it relieves is Syracuse's Hancock International.

Head of Skaneateles town zoning Mark Tucker said he did a lot of legwork looking for someone who might want to purchase the property to keep it an airport, as once it's gone, it's gone.

"It keeps the community unique," Tucker said.

The airport's Benson Road neighbors at the time of the potential development voiced their concern over gaining the additional houses.

The airport was eventually sold to Falcone at auction for around $600,000.

County Legislator Jim Rhinehart said that the new owner's vision is to update the fading airport through the state DOT "Air 99 Project" grant program. This is a 10 percent match from the owner.

Governor Pataki signed legislation establishing the "Airport Improvement and Revitalization Act of 1999." This act adds section 14-1 to the Transportation Law establishing grant and loan programs for capital improvements and technical assistance at public use airports in New York. To review the entire plan go to http://www.dot.state.ny.us/pubtrans/air99guidelines.pdf.

Rhinehart said Falcone is applying for three grants totaling around $1,900,000. The money would be used to fix one hangar, construct another, repair and resurface the runway and replace the runway lighting.

Also an above ground enclosed fueling facility would replace the trucked-in fueling system currently being used. This system will have to meet stringent Department of Environmental Conservation and FAA regulations mandated by the state Rhinehart said.

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