At its meeting last night, the Board of Supervisors Airport Committee was expected to advance a resolution for extending the safety zone at the county airport. That didn't happen. At 12:40 p.m., less than five hours before the meeting was to begin, Supervisor Mike Benson (New Lebanon), a member of the committee who has attended only a few of the many meetings that have been held since the committee was created last fall, proposed two new options. Both involve the county purchasing 100 acres of land from Carmen Nero, owner of Meadowgreens, the elimination of Meadowgreens Golf Course, and the consequent loss, to the Town of Ghent and the county, of property taxes on the 100 acres and the sales tax generated by the golf course.
Many at the meeting--both members of the audience and members of the committee--were not enthusiastic about Benson's eleventh hour proposals. Attorney Ken Dow questioned Benson's motivation. "If this were a serious effort," said Dow, "it would have been made months ago. This, on its face, is ridiculous." He went on to characterize Benson's proposals as "just an attempt to muck up the gears." Supervisor John Porreca (Greenport), who had originally suggested the solution the committee was poised to recommend, dismissed Benson's proposals as "eleventh hour crap."
Ghent supervisor Michael Benvenuto expressed concern about the loss of property tax revenue were the county to purchase the 100 acres, and Ghent resident Patti Matheney wanted to know what use the 100 acres might be put to. "We all deserve to know what's going to happen with the land," said Matheney.
Although the discussion of airport improvements started last fall with a sense of dire urgency, Airport Committee chair Art Bassin (Ancram) recommended taking another month to "drill down" to see if what was being proposed by Benson made financial sense. "What's the downside of waiting another month?" he asked rhetorically. "We've been at this for ten years."
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