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Village board approves airport security agreement

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MASSENA — The village Board of Trustees on Tuesday unanimously approved an agreement with the town to continue providing a village police presence at Massena International Airport through the end of the year.

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said he expects the Town Council to approve the same agreement tonight.

“I would be very surprised if they didn’t,” he said.

Mr. Gray said he spoke with the mayor last week, before finalizing the details of the agreement Tuesday morning.

The agreement will pay the village $68.85 per day for the next three months.

“That covers the cost of our officers going out there,” Mayor James F. Hidy said, adding this agreement will give the town time to explore other options before the start of the new year.

“It looks like we can help them out, while in the meantime they look for other venues to provide the airport with security,” Mr. Hidy said.

Mr. Gray said he has exchanged several emails with Transportation Security Administration officials, and he is optimistic that prior to the start of the new year, the town will have other plans in place.

“I think we’re going to be able to work out a different arrangement with the TSA, which would be fine with the village,” Mr. Gray said. “We’ll see how that goes over the next couple of months.”

When asked if he was expecting to be granted permission to use a “flexible response time” plan, Mr. Gray said he wasn’t sure, explaining such a plan would enable the village to not have law enforcement officials present at the airport, as long as TSA officials could be sure officers would be there within minutes, if needed.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be that or if we’ll have to work something else out,” he said.

While the village and the town have reached an agreement to cover the airport for the next three months, Mr. Hidy pointed out the town still owes the village close to $60,000.

“It’s pretty substantial,” Mr. Hidy said. “I’ve asked the town to make us whole at their next meeting.”

That meeting will be held tonight.

Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said that while the security issue has garnered a lot of attention in recent weeks, it is important to note that the village Police Department has day in and day out provided a presence at the airport.

“It’s important to point out the village of Massena Police Department recognizes the importance of the airport,” he said, adding the TSA reimbursement rate is set each year by Congress. The current reimbursement rate of $22.96 per hour translates to a daily reimbursement of $68.88, pretty much the agreed-upon rate for the next three months.

Village Trustee Patricia K. Wilson said she was glad an agreement could be reached.

“It looks like a good path going forward,” she said.

Mr. Hidy also noted that the agreement was contingent upon town board approval.

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