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Sun., Sep. 21
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OBPA signs consultant for airport runway study

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OGDESBURG - The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority will pay a consultant $89,283 to conduct a feasibility study on expanding Ogdensburg International Airport’s runway and terminal.

McFarland-Johnson, Binghamton, was hired Wednesday by the OBPA Board of Directors and will deliver its report in September.

“We want to look at what are the possibilities for the airport,” said Chairman Samuel J. LaMacchia following the board’s 7-0 vote. “To find out on our own exactly what it means to us.”

The authority wants to lengthen its runway from 5,200 feet to 6,000 feet in order to accommodate larger commercial airplanes, hoping that will spark an overall increase in activity that will eventually make the airport profitable.

The expansion of the terminal, said Executive Director Wade A. Davis, would also be necessary.

“Larger airplanes require a larger terminal,” he said. “It’s prudent planning.”

The feasibility study will address cost, design and environmental impact factors.

Massena town officials are also studying the feasibility of expanding their runway.

In other business, the authority’s voice will be heard May 15 when the state Office of Mental Health hosts a so-called “Listening Tour” stop at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center to discuss a state proposal that officials fear could result in the closing of the 123-year-old facility and the loss of its 520 jobs.

“The loss of the psychiatric center would be a huge hit for the area,” Mr. Davis said. “We can’t allow that to happen.”

Mr. LaMacchia, who will speak for the authority at the meeting, along with Deputy Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer Frederick S. Morrill, said that neither the psychiatric center nor Ogdensburg can afford to lose 500 jobs.

“We need help,” Mr. LaMacchia said. “That’s very difficult to overcome.”

The state is considering downsizing the number of inpatient psychiatric hospital beds as part of a plan to emphasize outpatient treatment and support for the mentally ill.

Those wishing to attend the listening tour forum, to be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Unity Center, are being asked to register online at www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/excellence/registration.html. Those looking to speak are asked to make their plans known when they register.

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