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Long Island

MacArthur Airport master plan takes off

Officials have unveiled preliminary concepts for Long Island MacArthur Airport's master plan, showcasing a wish list that includes twin 7,000-foot runways, a people-mover that connects to the Ronkonkoma train station, and a 60-acre Federal Aviation Administration facility.

The master plan update is still in its infancy, but those concepts and more were presented to 200 residents Tuesday night, the first time public input has been gathered so early in the process, Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci said.

In the terminal, representatives from the airport's planning consultant, Ohio-based Landrum & Brown, answered questions as residents submitted comments and reviewed ideas for MacArthur's expansion.

"We do believe it is a growth market, though the last couple of years have been slow," said Jim Walsh, Landrum & Brown's vice president. "Passengers will begin migrating back because of capacity constraints at Kennedy and Newark, and the airport will require additional facilities."

Growth will be slow but steady, Walsh added. His company forecasts growth of about 1.6 percent per year until 2035, from less than 1 million passengers to up to 2.1 million.

The plan, which is updated every decade and could be complete in six to nine months, offers variations on three airport features -- the airfield, the terminal and landside, or the parking area.

On the airfield, a runway could be lengthened or converted to a taxiway. The terminal could be expanded or a new one built. And 60 of the airport's 1,300 acres could be used, town and county officials hope, for a new high-tech FAA air traffic control facility.

Since news broke weeks ago that the FAA might relocate almost 1,000 air traffic control jobs from Ronkonkoma and Westbury off the Island, residents on Tuesday seemed fixed on bringing the facility to MacArthur.

"We don't want to see Long Island families uprooted -- we want to keep them here," said Ed Imbasciani, vice president of the Ronkonkoma Civic Association. He said building the new air traffic control facility at MacArthur would complement the airport's growth.

Interim Airport Commissioner Terry Hennessey said the first goal is getting more carriers to MacArthur.

"We're working very hard and talking to a few people," he said. "We've given them everything they've asked for numbers-wise and all that, so we're very hopeful."

Longtime Bohemia resident Carol Schmid, who lives in the flight path and has had an "up-and-down" relationship with MacArthur, said, "The airport isn't going away. It's here, let's just make it a friendly neighbor."

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