The Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport will soon have a new fence around its 531-acre facility as a result of being awarded three grants, totalling more than $1.2 million. The grants, which are part of the federal entitlement funds that airports across New York receive annually, are intended to improve safety and security on the property.
The amount allocated to the grants is based on the number of passengers who use the airport each year. According to Tony Rudy, assistant airport manager of Ithaca Tompkins, there were approximately 238,000 total passengers traveling inbound and outbound in 2012. This figure has seen a decrease this year.
On Aug. 28, New York senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer announced that $949,215 of the $1.2 million in federal funding will be used to build the fence. The remainder of the grants will be used to purchase equipment for snow removal and general safety installations.
According to a press release on Senator Gillibrand’s website, the funding comes from the Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program in an effort to keep Ithaca Tompkins in line with the current mandated safety standards.
Rudy said the FAA’s funding will also allow the airport to address concerns of wildlife surrounding its current fencing.
In the past, animals have dug through the fence. Rudy said the airport will use part of the grant to address this issue.
“We had a wildlife study done recently that identified some problem areas we have and some improvements we could make overall to the fence to help those issues out,” he said.
By replacing the damaged and worn areas of the fence with a steel chain-link, as well as burying lower sections and adding stone around the fences, the area will be secured from wildlife, Rudy said.
Albert Capogrossi, development assistant of Ithaca College Annual Fund, said the new security measures will add to the airport’s safety appeal while still allowing it to be easy to travel through.
“I like that it has large-airport security without sacrificing the small-airport convenience,” he said.
Junior Alyn O’Brien typically travels through the airport twice a semester. While she doesn’t always feel comfortable in small-airport settings, O’Brien said the new safety measures being taken by Ithaca Tompkins make a 50-minute flight rather than a five-hour drive to northern Pennsylvania worth it.
“The improvements make me feel a lot better about deciding to fly instead of driving all the way back to school,” O’Brien said. “Anything that makes an airport safer is fine by me.”