Funding for Griffiss, Rome Lab welcome, but focus must be on growing these key assets

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New York’s elected federal officials on Wednesday announced the funding of about $7.5 million for Griffiss International Airport.

The funds will be used for infrastructure improvements including reconstruction of a runway.

The grant, local officials added, will enable Griffiss International Airport to upgrade its runway, surface and lighting, enhancing its status as a key regional asset and important facet of future economic development.

This funding comes on the heels of some $14.2 million in federal funds U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Claudia L. Tenney have been working to secure to fortify security at the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (better known as Rome Lab) in the fiscal 2019 Military Construction Appropriation bill.

The funding, the officials say, would enhance anti-terrorism perimeter security and entry-point controls through the construction of a security fence around the lab’s perimeter equipped with associated lighting, video surveillance, card-controlled personnel entry access gates, and visitor control-entry point to mitigate threats from vehicle-borne improvised devices.

Both the enhanced security for Rome Lab and the improved infrastructure are crucial to both facilities and our region — but more can and should be done to not just protect and enhance these key assets but to grow them and perhaps add additional military missions and projects.

While a return to a full-fledged military installation isn’t going to happen, expansion of our military assets should be on the table.

President Donald Trump is a New Yorker — who understands the value of military assets and backs it up with his administration’s budget requests.

Schumer is the Senate minority leader, and Gillibrand is the chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, should have the clout and the savvy to deliver, and Tenney has been a vocal supporter of the president in the House.

While the nearly $22 million set to flow into the region for Griffiss and Rome Lab is certainly good news for both facilities and the region the potential addition of component pieces to the region’s existing military assets and expansion of their current roles — including burgeoning military programs with unmanned aerial systems — should be a priority for the state and for the region — and its representatives in Washington, D.C.

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