NEW WINDSOR—Sen. Charles Schumer arrived at Stewart International Airport on May 23 to announce a push for $4 million in federal investment funds for critical water and sewer infrastructure improvements.
Schumer will ask the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) to approve funding that would allow the Town of New Windsor, in partnership with the airport and surrounding business community, to upgrade the airport’s 80-year-old water and sewer system.
The federal investment will allow the airport and Orange County to attract new commercial tenants, accommodate more personal and commercial aircraft, expand cargo space, and add 35,000 square feet of terminal space.
“Stewart International Airport has invested millions to improve its facilities and add flights so it can increase passenger and commercial traffic tenfold by 2025,” Schumer said. “But in order to make this a reality, the airport’s ancient water and sewer infrastructure desperately needs to be overhauled.”
He said if that happens, businesses will flock there. “There are hotels, business incubators, and companies currently chomping at the bit to develop the land around Stewart and this water infrastructure project is the linchpin in their efforts,” Schumer said.
According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Stewart employs approximately 2,700 people in the area and contributes roughly $450 million in economic activity to the region, generating 3,300 total jobs and more than $160 million in annual wages and salaries.
The Town of New Windsor is chiefly responsible for maintaining the airport’s infrastructure. According to the Town, the airport utilizes ancient and brittle water and sewer mains that are often clogged and prone to breaking.
Town officials said there have been dozens of water main breaks over the past few years. The overall project is expected to cost $8.83 million. New Windsor and Stewart are proposing paying for half of it.
According to Stewart, it invested $172 million in infrastructure improvements since October 2015, mostly on runway rehabilitation. The airport is now poised to increase flights and the number of passengers it serves tenfold by 2025.
By mid-2017, Stewart is planning to turn its makeshift federal inspection area into a permanent one, allowing for significant growth of international flights.
System upgrades would not only modernize the airport, but also open up new tracts of land that were previously considered unusable. This would allow Stewart to support the construction of two new hotels, create a new business incubator, and help to develop 2,400 additional acres of land.
Several businesses depend on these improvements, such as the on-premise hotel, FBI building, Metal Container Corp., and other businesses.
FedEx has a large workforce throughout the county with over 300 employees, including 200 working at the facility next to the airport grounds that handles sorting and processing. The company has said it could potentially grow with increased flights, as well as cargo space, and shipping opportunities at Stewart if the infrastructure was upgraded.
The Orange County Industrial Development Agency plans to construct a 10,000 sq. ft. office building and small business incubator on the property at an expected cost of $2 million. Construction of two hotels will begin this summer at a cost of $23.5 million.
Schumer was joined by Ed Harrison, the Port Authority’s general manager of the Stewart International Airport, and Town of New Windsor Supervisor George Green.
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