Canandaigua officials invited Canandaigua residents to gather on their local airstrip Thursday to field questions and concerns about a future airport expansion.
The Canandaigua airport supports business jets, local recreational traffic and the occasional military aircraft. Its runway was expanded a year ago to accommodate larger airplanes that bring commerce opportunities to the area, but residents living around the airport are increasingly concerned about noisy aircraft flying over their houses on weekends and in the dead of night.
A master plan for an expanded airport that can handle more traffic is in the works for 2015, said Ontario County Industrial Development Agency Economic Developer Mike Manikowski. But before that plan takes off, he and airport officials wanted to hear from the community, he said.
“We want to create a dialogue and an open forum around this,” Manikowski said in front of about 25 residents sitting outside next to a row of small aircraft at the airport on Brickyard Road. He emphasized the value of including points of public concern in the airport’s new plans, but said that having a larger airport will help the area keep the business attraction it currently holds.
“How do we stay competitive? We need aviation,” he said. “This helps maintain the businesses we already have here.”
The airport will not support passenger airliners — those will stay at the Greater Rochester International Airport, said McFarland Johnson airport planner Zachary Staff. “This will relieve some congestion at the Rochester airport so that smaller aircraft don’t hog that airspace,” Staff said.
Residents’ main concern was the noise of aircraft in the area — “it’s just very pesky,” said resident Charles Ron Evans, who lives on New Michigan Road, two miles north of the airport. Evans said planes buzzing back and forth over his house cause constant irritation.
“Where I live, it just keeps getting worse,” he said.
Other neighbors, like Canandaigua National Bank CEO George Hamlin, said that the Canandaigua airport offers convenience to local aviators. “Instead of driving an hour to Rochester and waiting in that airport, we can use this airport and get to two, three places a day,” Hamlin said.
Small aircraft are also less noisy than other forms of recreational transportation, he said. “These aren’t nearly as loud as one single car down at the motorsports park,” he said.
The airport currently supports about 28,000 “operations,” or takeoffs and landings, per year, Staff said. Taxpayers do not fund the airport and will not fund the expansion, Manikowski said; it is funded completely through the Federal Aviation Administration. Plans for new hangars would be included in the new master plan, so that businesses could base their aircraft in Canandaigua, Manikowski said.