By a vote of 4-1 this afternoon, the Columbia County airport committee approved the referral of the draft resolution known as the Porreca Plan to the full Board of Supervisors.
Chair Art Bassin, Ghent Supervisor Mike Benvenuto, Hillsdale’s Art Baer and of course Greenport’s John Porreca voted yes. Only David Crawford of Crawford Engineering voted no. Hudson Supervisor Sarah Sterling asked how it was that others of her colleagues seemed empowered to negotiate independently with Mr. Nero, specifying emails from Benson as an example.
Vehement plan opponent Mike Benson, Supervisor of New Lebanon, was absent—prompting audience questions about his whereabouts.
Crawford was challenged by the audience about his vote. These included questions from attorney Ken Dow as to why he would want the County to shut down a viable, established business (the golf course) and take more property off the tax rolls.
Crawford replied, none too convincingly, that he suspected that committee estimates of future tax revenues from Meadowgreens were too high, and that the funds spent would be primarily Federal and State monies. Bassin blasted this second argument as “silly,” given that such funds are also taxpayer-funded, and that the matter had already been hashed out repeatedly.
In a surprise, Meadowgreens owner Carmen Nero announced at the start of the meeting that he, too, supports the Porreca Plan and hopes to work with the County to preserve his ability to develop the remainder of his property adjoining the airport.
With Mahlon Richards of Richmor Aviation also on board in prior meetings, and members of the public applauding the vote today, that leaves Crawford and Benson as inexplicable holdouts. (Are they members of a competing golf club or something?) At 5 pm, County’s Economic Development committee was scheduled to hear a presentation by Ken Flood about the airport’s potential if the entire property were acquired instead. But Flood too now thinks the “private sectors” is a better vehicle for promoting airport-related businesses.