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COMMITTEE WILL VOTE AGAIN ON SITE FOR NEW AIRPORT

A county-appointed committee must vote again to choose the preferred site for a new Cattaraugus County airport because a poll taken earlier this month has been ruled invalid.

Municipal Airport Advisory Committee Chairman Bernard Morris is calling the 16-member group together for a brief session at 7 p.m. Monday to confirm members' preference for a site on a forested hilltop in Little Valley.

County Attorney Dennis Tobolski said the seven votes cast for the site at an Oct. 7 committee meeting were a majority of those present but were not enough for an official recommendation to the County Legislature. At least nine votes are required, he added.

Morris said he doesn't expect lengthy discussion at Monday's meeting about issues already addressed by the committee and has told an airport planning consultant his attendance is not necessary.

"I'm looking at this as more of correcting a technical error in the vote of the committee," Morris said.

Ten committee members holding voting privileges were present at the Oct. 7 session. Two separate votes were taken after some members stated the need to keep the Olean Municipal Airport alternative alive as a second option for the County Legislature and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Seven members voted for the Little Valley site, located west of Route 219 and accessible from Hungry Hollow Road and Newton Run and estimated at one time to cost about $46.3 million.

In the second round, only committee members John Snyder of Dresser Rand and Grant Scott of Scott Rotary Seals, who was not present at the meeting, voted for an upgrade of the Olean Municipal Airport on a hilltop in the Town of Ischua and accessed from Route 16.

Scott's vote was entered by Morris as a proxy, a process Tobolski said is not recognized in the Legislature's procedures.

Snyder, representing Dresser Rand, voted for both sites, a move that is consistent with his stated position that either site would suit the company's needs because they are located within a reasonable driving distance from its Olean headquarters.

He also has called for improvements at the Olean Airport because his company's international sales require a large volume of small business jet travel.

Early estimates for expansion of the Olean Airport placed the cost at about $73.7 million.

After voting was tallied, committee member John Drew said he wanted the group's final report to the County Legislature to exclude the Olean Airport option, with other unnamed sites to be placed under consideration in the event the Legislature rejects the Little Valley hilltop site. He advocated construction of a centralized county-owned airport without FAA funding if necessary.

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