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Two events over the past month in the Village of Lansing quietly signaled a major shift for Tompkins County.  One was symbolic, the other significant in a way that will impact the county economy, diversity of population, and culture.  The symbolic event was the official renaming of Lansing Village Community Park on Uptown Road to Global Village Park.  On a practical level, on May 3rd Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, located in the Village, to announce a $14.2 million Upstate Airport Development Grant.

The grant is for a major upgrade to the airport that will include a U.S. Customs and Border Protection entry point, turning our regional airport into an international one, and reportedly attracting a new airline to Ithaca.  The airport upgrade is a huge win for Tompkins County.  A lot of the credit goes to Airport Director Mike Hall, who has worked tirelessly since taking the position in 2014.

Hall is a dreamer.  He has talked about expanding the airport for years, but not just talked -- the airport has recovered nicely from a time when it was losing airlines.  In 2016 a $619,935 grant was awarded to the airport to build a new building that will house the East Hill Flying Club, allowing it to expand to an academy that will attract more student pilots into the area.  Last November the airport featured all-jet service for the first time (all-jet commercial service, that is.  Private propeller driven planes still abound).  So it hasn't just been dreams and talk - Hall turns big dreams into reality.

Global Village ParkGlobal Village Park is on Uptown Road in the Village of Lansing

Village of Lansing Trustee Gerry Monaghan is also a bit of a dreamer.  In 2016 Monaghan celebrated the diversity of the Village with an art project in Lansing Village Community Park.  He counted at least 26 languages spoken by people of varied global origins living in and near the Village, and engaged school children to create a temporary art project that transformed the park.  Last month when villagers voted on names for that ark and two others, the majority of voters wanted to continue to acknowledge that diversity by renaming the park after Monaghan's project, and only a few weeks ago Global Village Park became its official name.

Tompkins County already has a global economy, thanks in large part to Cornell University and the many high-tech and other business spin-offs it has spawned.  Being able to ship to and from Ithaca without having to stop elsewhere to go through customs is a huge advantage that also makes our airport a gateway to the world for the regional airports and communities that surround us.  Connecting the airport to the wide world makes Tompkins County a logical place to open new businesses that operate in the world economy.

At an announcement of a $250,000 grant to publicize the airport State Senator James L. Seward said, "First impressions mean a lot," Seward said. "When someone touches down here we want them to know that they have arrived someplace very special and significant. After all, this is a gateway to the Finger Lakes region. There are so many world-class attractions here, and educational institutions, along with a thriving business community right outside the walls of this airport terminal. If we want the surrounding region to really take flight we need to have a top notch airport. We must also do all we can to market and promote what we have here."

Andrew Cuomo, Donald HartillNew York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Village of Lansing Mayor Donald Hartill at an event last month in the Village to announce a $14.25 million grant to expand the airport, plus a new Department of transportation (DOT) facility to be located at the airport.

New businesses mean new tax revenue, which is good for all the existing taxpayers in the County, and especially those in the Village and Town of Lansing.  It means new jobs and new people to fill up the developments that are currently popping up in the Town.  And it will likely mean a heck of a shorter wait while going through customs when returning home from a visit to Europe, Asia, or anyplace else in the world.

The Tompkins County Legislature voted Tuesday to accept the grant, which will facilitate an aggressive construction schedule that, if all goes well, will mean the renovations will be completed next year.

There used to be a T-shirt that humorously declared, "Candor -- Gateway to Willseyville".  Now there should be a T-shirt that proudly declares, "Village of Lansing -- Gateway to the World".

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