Airport renovations create community center

Peg Fritton (left), passenger agent for the Ithaca Tompkins International Airport, greets passengers boarding a flight on Feb. 17.
Peg Fritton (left), passenger agent for the Ithaca Tompkins International Airport, greets passengers boarding a flight on Feb. 17.
Photo by Jessica Wickham

The recently completed $34.8 million expansion project at the Ithaca Tompkins International Airport in Lansing has nearly doubled the size of the terminal and added four new jet bridges, a new café and bar, streamlined security, covered parking and a U.S. Customs office to the facility.

But it’s the facilities on the “public,” or non-secure side, that Airport Director Mike Hall hopes becomes a community resource.

Local non-flyers can take advantage of a new indoor playground with interactive video screens, an outdoor playground for the warmer months, retail space and conference facilities provide services to air travelers and, hopefully, to local residents.

As a destination airport rather than a hub, Hall said that Ithaca Tompkins has “pulses” of users in the morning, around noon and in the evening. The expanded facilities aim to draw local people and even out that traffic.

“We are hoping that people will come to the airport on a wintry day, when the kids are climbing the walls, to play here. People who work in the tech park can come over for lunch,” Hall said. “Our conference rooms can expand to a dozen, two dozen, or four dozen people and are equipped with Skype and Zoom conference capabilities. We’d like to see this as a community center as much as an airport.”

Ithaca Coffee Company operates the café and provides catering to the conference rooms.

Hall also noted that the installation of a ground source heating and cooling unit for the facility has freed up enough natural gas from the local supply to provide for seven businesses or 70 homes. The airport is still seeking $1.5 million in support for the project from New York State Electric and Gas to reflect the benefits of that switch.

Hall has been the airport director for five years. He grew up locally and went to Cornell University before joining the Air Force to fly fighter jets and rise to major general, and he has a strong sense of Tompkins County’s aviation history.

“One hundred years ago, we made more airplanes here than anyplace in the world,” he said. “After World War II, Robinson Airlines grew out of military flight training. That became Mohawk airlines, which has a straight connection to American Airlines. They were headquartered here. This airport began as Cornell’s flight testing field – Edwards Air Force Base east.”

Ithaca Tompkins International Airport has three airlines and a fixed based operator (Taughannock Aviation Corporation). In 2018, more than 200,000 passengers passed through the airport, generating more than $30 million for the local economy and nearly $456,000 in sales tax revenue.

The airport’s business is roughly 50% commercial and 50% private aviation, Hall said. On the private side, half are business jets and half are small aircraft.

In Brief:

LUMC Plans Spaghetti Dinner

The Lansing United Methodist Church is planning a spaghetti Dinner March 7 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

A $10 donation is requested for a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad and homemade pies. Children under 10 are $7, and under 5 are free. Take out will be available.

Lansing Events Committee Hosts Barbecue

The Lansing Events Committee will host a “Barbecue Day” Feb. 29 from 10:30 a.m. until gone to benefit the Lansing Carnival. Dinners can be picked up at the Lansing Community Center and tables will be available to dine in.
Chicken dinners, including dinner roll, salt potatoes and macaroni salad will be $10, chicken only $8, pulled pork dinners with salt potatoes and coleslaw will be $10, and pork only $8.

High School Musical

Lansing High School will perform the musical “Once Upon A Mattress,” March 11 and 12 at 6:30 p.m. and March 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. in the Lansing Middle School auditorium.

Tickets are $5 on March 11 and $10 on March 12, 13 and 14. Tickets can be purchased at the door the night of the performance. Tickets can be purchased in advance at starting Feb. 23 and until 2 p.m. the day of the show.

Gaelic & Garlic Festival at All Saints

All Saints Church will host an Irish- and Italian-themed festival, “Gaelic and Garlic,” at All Saints Church Sunday, March 15, from noon to 4 p.m.
Dinner options will include $15 Italian plates and $5 kids’ meals (with a $45 family-rate option - two adults and kids, 12 and under) and will be served until 3 p.m.
Come see local Irish step dancers, hear Italian music, join in face painting, and enjoy great beverages. Bakers are invited to compete in a contest for the best Italian or Irish dessert.


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