Republic Airport officials said they will soon make a major push to get community feedback as part of a study to produce a plan for the airport's future.
The $400,000 study is being conducted by DY Consultants of Roslyn Heights and will conclude with a vision plan for the airport, which is run by the state Department of Transportation.
There have already been a handful of meetings with community members. In the coming months, the consultants plan to meet with more civic, business and aviation groups, officials said. They will also distribute a questionnaire - which can be found at republicairportvision.com - to libraries.
There will be workshops, followed by the development of "visions" for the airport, analysis of the plan and then public comment on the visions. DY Consultants president Dennis Yap said he expects everything to be completed by the fall.
The vision plan is an alternative to a master plan.
The airport has made three attempts at a master plan over the years, officials said. The last attempt, which cost $500,000, did not get past disagreement over existing airport conditions, airport director Michael Geiger said Friday. "So from my standpoint, it's three strikes and you're out," he said. "We said let's try to find a different way to look at this, one that's not as rigid."
Master plans are not required for airports, officials said. "The state doesn't need to do this," said DOT regional director Subi Chakraborti. "But they felt is was important."
Officials said the vision plan could change over the years, allowing them to adjust to unexpected events and economic factors. Master plans are more rigid and based on forecasts, while a vision plan allows for more latitude, said Chakraborti.
One of the conditions of the visioning was that the airport would retain all existing contracts with tenants, Geiger said. As such, Holland SheltAir Aviation Group will continue to build as many as seven new hangars, an office building and a small maintenance facility at the airport, tripling its jet capacity. It is this kind of expansion that nearby residents say worries them and that Babylon town supervisor Steve Bellone called "sectioning" expansion that could be avoided with a master plan.
Bellone said the town would prefer a master plan because it would be an official document and would require certain elements under the law.
Helen Norjen, a trustee of the Woodland Civic Association in Farmingdale said she is not happy with the visioning process, which she feels has not been well-publicized.