Waste Watch: Owner of failed airport faces prison time, a story of wasted taxpayer money

Hastings Airport

From Gildner Road in the Oswego County Town of Hastings, it appears to be several buildings in an overgrown field. But if you look closer, you realize it's an airport. Runway lights are surrounded by weeds, while fading yellow paint mark the taxi ways and at the centerof it all is a long and wide paved landing strip. On maps it's referred to as the "Syracuse Suburban Airport.

In 2004, the idea behind the project was to turn the former farm field into a reliever airport. So if Hancock International had to shut down for some reason, passenger planes could be diverted onto the runway in Hastings about 15 miles away. The Federal government poured some $2.9 million worth of grants into the project.

Neighbors however did not want the airport. After construction was well underway in 2004, Hastings Community Development Director Mark Bombardo issued a stop work order against the owner David Pizio. "The town looked at our master plan and uses in that area and the Town didn't feel that it fit into that area as a good type of development." Bombardo told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.

Pizio and the Town of Hastings ended up in court. A State Supreme Court judge ruled Pizio would be allowed to develop the airport, but the Town would be able to limit its size. "They were not allowed to expand or add anything else to the project but just refurbish and utilize what's there." Bombardo explained.

Pizio abandoned the idea of building a full size runway capable to handling passenger jets. But federal prosecutors say Pizio committed bank fraud when he misused a line of credit intended for the airport. They say he invested in a Texas real estate project, an investment brokerage account and a bean company. Pizio pleaded guilty and faces up to 30 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the Syracuse Suburban Airport remains abandoned, its future uncertain.