By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Demolition has begun on a Cold War relic in order to clear the way for potential airport development.
“This is excellent. There was nothing we could do with that building, and now we will have prime space on the flightline for something good,” said Clinton County Legislator Robert Heins (R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who chairs the county’s Airport Committee.
The massive 144,000-square-foot hangar at Plattsburgh International Airport at one time housed jets from Pratt & Whitney.
Before that, from 1955 to 1995, it cradled bombers and tankers for Plattsburgh Air Force Base when it was located there.
Pratt & Whitney left in 2008, leaving the building empty. In 2010, it was severely damaged by a microburst that ripped holes in the roof, damaged electrical systems and caused water issues.
“The storm was so powerful it ripped apart 2-by-4s in the roof and shot them all over the building, and we had all these 2-by-4 spears sticking out of the roof and the walls,” Deputy County Administrator Rodney Brown said.
The damage on the more-than-60-year-old structure was estimated at about $3.5 million. Insurance settlements would only cover about $1.3 million worth of repairs.
“They (insurance company) would not agree to replace the entire roof,” Brown said.
“They would only agree to repair it, but we were not confident that it could be adequately repaired.”
Brown said that the obsolete building was poorly insulated and expensive to heat. It also was poorly designed, making it difficult for large aircraft from the private sector to fit properly.
“The Air Force had different size planes.”
Legislators sought bids on demolition of the building and came up with an attractive offer. Dan’s Hauling and Demo Inc. out of Wyantskill will pay the county about $122,000 for the rights to keep the scrap metal from the structure.
Heins said the money from the demolition and the insurance settlement can be used for other projects at the airport.
“It really wasn’t that hard a decision,” he said.
“The building was so old and bad that we couldn’t heat it and we couldn’t market it.”
The company began demolition three weeks ago and has 90 days to complete the job.
Email Joe LoTemplio: firstname.lastname@example.org