$ 16M Tower is Awaiting Taxpayers at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport

The airport directory said a lng-term reimbursement plan by the Federal Aviation Administration has been approved.

He and Vonderheid said the counties won't commit any funds to the tower without a lease commitment by the FAA.

"The only basis we'll do it is if it's paid in full to the penny by the FAA," Cordaro said.

Luzerne County won't come up with its half for the project, "unless we have a surety the FAA is going to pay for the cost," said Vonderheid.

Until a new tower is built, the old one will stay in place and the airport will have to maintain the terminal below it as well as the newly built terminal, the commissioners pointed out.

Kanjorski, who has secured approximately $ 39 million in federal funds for the airport, said it was his understanding that the tower was included early on. "Part of that original design showed the existence of a traffic-control tower on the other side of the airport."

Within the past six months he was informed that the tower plan had not moved along. He held a closed- door conference call with the board after its Oct. 4 meeting as a result. At the time he was informed the FAA had decided not to pay for the tower and the commissioners also didn't want to pay for it, he said.

Hearing that, he said, his concern was that the airport have a tower and that the FAA staff it because of talks about possible cutbacks. "My interest was keeping the controllers here and keeping the facility first rate."

The congressman said that he later met again at the airport with FAA officials and commissioners Vonderheid and Cordaro and airport administration to discuss the tower situation. He acknowledged that one of the options talked about was having the counties build the tower and lease it to the FAA. Included in the lease would be a "hold harmless clause" stating that the FAA is fully responsible for the lease if it decides to leave the tower.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters confirmed the airport had submitted a projection authorization for the tower this week. The paperwork included lease and construction cost information. The FAA is reviewing the paperwork and will present its findings to the airport which could lead to a lease agreement, said Peters.

Read a copy of the letter requesting money from the counties for the construction of a new air traffic control tower. Go to www.timesleader.com.


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