Federal Funding Secured Towards Effort to Replace Tower at Gabreski Airport
Westhampton, NY - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) announced today that a $180,000 federal grant has been awarded to Francis Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, New York, which is home of the 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard. The federal grant, secured through the U.S. Department of Transportation, will be used to fund phase one of a much needed four-phase project to construct a 4,900 square foot contract air traffic control tower, which will replace the existing tower that does not meet current building codes and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Phase one is a site selection study.
Congressman Zeldin said, “The 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard in Westhampton has a long and distinguished history of service to the community and our country. The tower that is currently at Gabreski, which has been around since the 1940s, will be replaced by a new tower with the necessary level of communications equipment and safety upgrades. We must ensure that the Gabreski facilities are always kept in top condition, as the 106th Rescue Wing plays a crucial role in protecting our national security and implementing emergency response requirements. This grant will provide Suffolk County with the funding necessary to start the process of replacing the air traffic control tower.”
Since 2015, Congressman Zeldin, who has visited Gabreski Airport multiple times and viewed the deteriorated condition of the tower firsthand, has been part of the bipartisan coalition in Congress working to protect contract towers, especially those that play an important national security role, such as Gabreski tower, from proposed FAA cuts and closures. The Congressman has been working closely with House colleagues on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and Aviation Subcommittee, Suffolk County officials, as well as past and current base commanders to secure federal funding for the new tower. In December 2016, Congressman Zeldin joined colleagues in the House, sending a letter to then President-elect Trump to support contract towers, and highlighting the importance of this program in saving taxpayer money, protecting aviation safety, and in providing air traffic services to the military. Most recently, Congressman Zeldin was joined by 90 lawmakers in a successful request calling on the House Appropriations Committee to fully fund contract towers. Just this week, the transportation appropriation bill approved by the committee contained $162 million for the contract tower program, which is a $3 million increase from the prior year.
Following the completion of stage one, there will be an environmental assessment that takes place in phase two, as well as the design stage in phase three. Phase four will be the construction of the new tower. Overall, the project is expected to cost approximately $5 million.