There's no doubt that Islip Supervisor Tom Croci has the right to choose his own person to run Long Island MacArthur Airport, a hugely important town asset. But it's also clear that by taking on much of the responsibility himself and pushing out an experienced commissioner, Teresa Rizzuto, he will totally own MacArthur's future -- for better or worse.
Croci is concerned about declining arrivals and departures and the difficulty of attracting new carriers. That problem likely has more to do with the recession than Rizzuto.
But he is correct to focus tightly on the airport, a key economic driver for the town and the region. It has advantages over Kennedy and LaGuardia: convenience of access for drivers and fewer flight delays. But it also has disadvantages: It doesn't offer enough nonstop flights, and ticket prices aren't always competitive with LGA and JFK. What it needs is another airline, especially one willing to invest in a terminal where the existing Southwest Terminal ought to have been, near the Long Island Rail Road's Ronkonkoma station.
Croci needs to build on Rizzuto's work, increasing the airport's visibility to better convince airline executives that new routes from Islip would be good business. But these are tight times for airlines, and it's not easy to get them to take risks. MacArthur Airport is vital to Long Island identity and its economic growth. We wish him blue skies.