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Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino Unveils Airport Lease Deal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Westchester County has announced a plan to lease its airport to a Los Angeles-based investment firm.

The $140 million proposal unveiled Thursday by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino would be structured under a 40-year revenue-sharing lease with Oaktree Capital Management.

Oaktree would pay for improvements in the passenger lounge, ticketing and baggage areas. Astorino said the terminal footprint and runways would not be expanded. A new wastewater facility would capture and treat de-icing fluid.

Astorino said the plan will "absolutely help our local economy and also provide even stronger environmental safeguards."

He said it will also "make the airport more profitable through better service, more amenities and greater efficiencies."

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, it's also expected to help heal the county's budget woes, with Westchester netting about $111 million over the course of the 40-year lease.

"Simply put, we're putting and creating a reliable, long-term source of funding that will protect taxpayers, preserve central services and promote economic development, and that is smart government," Astorino said.

Astorino said the added revenue would help fund services such as police and parks.

The plan requires approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and from a super majority (12 of 17 members) of the Westchester County Legislature.

Legislature Chairman Michael Kaplowitz said the board has many fiscal, environmental and safety concerns to weigh out.

"If it creates LaGuardia North, if it puts an imposition on the community, if it expands the airport that degrades the environment," he said.

Astorino, however, stressed this is not an expansion.

"It will not grow to a LaGuardia or a JFK. It cannot," Astorino said. "We are not expanding this airport."

JetBlue, American and United airlines have agreed in principle to provide long-term service at the airport.

"We have crafted a win-win-win scenario and we believe that great things are coming to Westchester County Airport," JetBlue's Kevin Costello said.

Robert Goodman, who lives in the Rye Brook neighborhood next to the airport, said he hopes the county is transparent about all the changes the deal has in store.

"As a home owner, I have an interest in keeping the airport at a certain stable level," he said. "Because I know that my quality of life will suffer.


Astorino said the current operator, AvPorts, has agreed to work with Oaktree to ensure a smooth transition.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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