Islip board chooses airport consultant

As the weather warms fewer people are traveling As the weather warms fewer people are traveling to the sun and beaches of Florida, which has caused Allegiant Air to suspend service from Long Island MacArthur Airport between late May and December 2014. This was Arrival Way at the Ronkonkoma airport on Jan. 24, 2013. Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

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The Islip Town Board Tuesday approved a $30,000 contract with an Indiana aviation firm to launch a new public relations agenda for Long Island MacArthur Airport.

Four of the board's five members voted for the six-month, $5,000 monthly contract with Indianapolis-based Vasey Aviation Group LLC. Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, saying she needed more information and wanted to review the firm's business plan, abstained.

Councilman Anthony S. Senft Jr. advised airport Commissioner Robert Schaefer that the contract should include benchmarks of accomplishments, which Schaefer said he would devise.

"My concern is that we sign a contract . . . and then a contractor does nothing," Senft said. "I want to make sure our taxpayers are getting what they pay for."

Company president Andrew Vasey could not be reached.

Schaefer has cited Vasey's experience with the Federal Aviation Administration and said the firm would be expected to do such things as lure a new airline and an air-traffic radar facility to the Ronkonkoma airport.

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Vasey has 27 years of airport development experience -- most recently as a senior adviser to the lessee of San Juan, Puerto Rico's airport, according to his resume, which Schaefer provided to Newsday. He also helped facilitate terminal expansion at MacArthur airport, according to his resume, which did not specify exact dates. He founded his firm in 2005.

Vasey, who Schaefer said has a home in Atlantique, has in the past donated to Islip Republicans. In 2006, his firm donated $600 to former Councilwoman Pamela Greene, campaign finance records show. That same year, the firm donated $500 to Suffolk Legis. Thomas F. Barraga (R-West Islip) and $1,000 to gubernatorial candidate William Weld.

Senft said Vasey's past donations had no impact on the contract. "He has the industry know-how and contacts," Senft said.

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The board previously granted a one-year, $60,000 contract for the same work at MacArthur airport to Victoria Ryan, wife of state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore). She left the same public relations job in February for an unpaid job as leader of the Islip Independence Party.

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