04.02.08

Schumer to Port Authority and NY: With Stewart Airport Now Under Port Authority's Jurisdiction, Hudson Valley Residents Should Have a Commissioner on PA Board

In November 2007, Port Authority Assumed a 99-Year Lease of Stewart Airport, whose Ridership has Tripled in Recent YearsWhile a Provision in the Port Authority Compact Requires Four of Six New York State seats to be Filled with Residents of New York City, No Requirement Exists to Ensure Hudson Valley Receives Seat on BoardWith Stewart Airport's Growth Affecting Commun

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on  New York State and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) to reserve a seat on commission's board for a resident of the Hudson Valley. In November 2007, PA assumed a 99year lease of Stewart Airport, which in recent years has seen its ridership explode fueled by a major increase in lowcost, reliable air service. While a provision in the PA compact requires four of six New York State seats to be filled by residents of New York City, no requirement exists to ensure the Hudson Valley receives a local representative on the board.

 

Schumer today sent a letter to the Port Authority urging it to restructure its board to allow New York State to appoint a new representative from the Hudson Valley to the Port Authority's board.

 

"Stewart Airport's growth has exploded in recent years, offering local businesses and travelers across the Hudson Valley a major hub for affordable and reliable air service," said Senator Schumer. "However, with the Port Authority now taking over Stewart, it's essential that the Hudson Valley has a local representative on the board to ensure the wishes and concerns of local residents across the region are heard loud and clear."

 

In November 2007 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey took over operations of Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, NY. With the addition of Stewart Airport to the Port Authority portfolio, Schumer argued that it is imperative that decisions made by the Port Authority's Board of Commissioners take into consideration the needs of the region that hosts the airport.

 

"It is only fair that the interests of residents of the Hudson Valley be appropriately represented on the PA board. It is also smart, since this unique point of view will only help the PA to more intelligently manage its geographically varied operations," Schumer noted in his letter.

 

While a requirement in the Port Authority compact requires four of six New York State seats to be filled with residents of New York City, there is currently no requirement to reserve a seat for a resident of the Hudson Valley.

 

"As such, it is vitally important that the Hudson Valley region have a seat at the governing table of the Port Authority. With this in mind, I ask the PA amend its rules to allow the governor of New York to appoint a commissioner to the Port Authority who is a resident of the Hudson Valley region of New York," Schumer wrote in his letter to the PA.

 

Schumer has a long history of fighting to increase the number of screeners at the airport as ridership at the airport has tripled in the last few years. In January 2007, Stewart Airport officials asked TSA to increase their security personnel allocation from 30 Transportation Security Officers (TSO) to deal with new volume of air travelers. Instead, TSA informed the airport that its screening staff would be cut down to 24.   

 

Schumer successfully lobbied the TSA to increase the number to over 35 TSOs and continues to press the TSA to further increase the allocation.  In April of 2007, Schumer also wrote to TSA administrator Kip Hawley to express his concern that although 35 TSO were allocated to Stewart, only 30 were being deployed. Acknowledging the need for more personnel, TSA recently announced that there will be 46 full time TSOs to give the airport the security it needs to keep a strong baseline of officers at the Airport.  

 

Schumer also played an instrumental role in pushing for the creation of the Stewart Airport Community Advisory Panel. Schumer wrote a letter to PA Executive Director Anthony Shorris stating the importance of establishing a citizens' advisory board to ensure the region's and airport's symbiotic relationship continues through smart growth. Following Schumer's suggestions, PANYNJ launched the Stewart Airport Community Advisory Panel.

 

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