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County Executive Latimer Delays Decision On Privatization Of Westchester County Airport

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Westchester County Airport is the 98th busiest airport in the country and neighbors are anxious about its future.

They raised concerns about pollution and expansion at public hearings this summer. On Monday, we got the county's response.

It looks like high-tech spy equipment, but there's nothing secret about what this type of monitor will listen for. It's one of 10 the county will buy to keep tabs on noise near the airport.

"The majority of concerns that we heard at the public sessions revolved around noise and other related issues, air quality issues," Westchester County Executive George Latimer said.

Latimer said his administration will boost monitoring of noise, and the airport's impact on air and water quality.

However, on a rainy Monday with many delays for travelers, the county executive announced a delay of his own -- on the controversial proposal to privatize the airport.

The deal pushed by his Republican predecessor could help close the county's $32 million budget gap. While Latimer said he wouldn't rule it out, he won't push the county board to move forward on the deal.

"We never once viewed the airport as a piggy bank to crack open," Latimer said.

Airport neighbors said they fear privatization will increase air traffic.

"I would like to hear that the airport is not going to be expanded. Enough is enough," Rye Brook resident Lisa Lambert said.

John Ravitz represents business leaders who want to see improvements here take off. The privatization plan would raise $500 million to redo the cramped and inefficient main terminal.

"We're not turning it into LaGuardia north," Ravitz said. "We can deal with these quality-of-life issues, as well as enhance this airport, so it can continue to be a beacon for economic development."

The airport has long been a source of tension -- and that won't be changing soon.

Right now, the commercial side of the airport is restricted to four gates, and no more than 240 passengers arriving or departing each half hour.

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