Francis S. Gabreski Airport is slated to receive over $950,000 dollars in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Congressman Tim Bishop announced on Thursday, August 1, after the airport’s air traffic control tower in Westhampton Beach was originally one of over 100 towers to be closed around the country. The airport is home to the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing.
The tower was set to close after losing funding from the Sequestration. Bishop lobbied the F.A.A., saying the 106th Rescue Wing was vital to national security.
“Gabreski Airport is not only a powerful engine for the local economy, it’s a key component of our homeland security infrastructure as home to the 106th Rescue Wing,” Bishop said in a press release. “These federal investments will equip Gabreski for decades of reliable and efficient service in its dual commercial-military role.”
According to Oliver Longwell, a spokesman for the Congressman, Gabreski airport officials applied for the grant with the F.A.A. to make renovations to different aspects of the airport.
Of the $950,000 allotment, $585,000 will go to replace 40-year-old snow removal equipment. According to a press release from Bishop’s office, the only way to efficiently rid an airport’s roads of snow is to use a rotary plow to push it over signs into an open field. The new plow is meant to enhance the airport’s modernization plans.
“The airport is crucial to sustaining the local economy and these grant funds will assist the airport in upgrading its runway and ensure safe landing and takeoff during inclement weather,” Gillibrand said in a press release.
This will also help in event of inclement weather, as the airport features a 9,000 foot runway, one of the largest on Long Island.
Another $366,300 will go towards a new paving design for the airport’s runways. The current runways are cracked and bucked. Though the airport has conducted short-term repairs, it has become too costly to avoid a long-term solution. The new design should revive the runway for about 20 years.