Possible Actions to save Solberg Airport from Eminent Domain by a Hostile Community

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ARTICLE: Stop trying to close Solberg Airport, AOPA tells mayor
Solberg Airport

AOPA, as usual, is being vocal about saving a general aviation airport that is threatened to become another much-needed shopping mall. The association has in its arsenal of weapons its very competent airport advocate. Hopefully their efforts and the activities will convince the local elected officials to relent on their assault on this useful aviation asset.

The tricky aspect of this capacity battle is that this is a private airport. The family, which created and maintained it, did not accept federal funds; although, privately-owned, open-to-the-public facilities are eligible.

Without a vested interest, it is difficult for the FAA to be directly involved. Without the AIP grant hook, there needs to be a compelling federal need in order to justify litigation, and in order to make such a claim, a very detailed and accurate assessment of the region’s airport capacity would have to be made. The numbers would have to clearly demonstrate that closure of this bit of infrastructure will force the aircraft using Solberg as a base, or as a destination, or as an intermediate point, to crowd other neighboring airports. That derivative congestion would result, under a compelling ideal scenario, in unsafe air traffic and/or ground operations. Given their already overburdened agenda, it is not likely that the FAA can produce such a complex analysis. Maybe AOPA and/or others could commission such a study.

Aside from any formal or visible action, the FAA and/or the US Department of Transportation could use their penumbra of power. Surely the New Jersey Department of Transportation can persuade that organization to lean on the elected officials of Readington, NJ. Surely the state has some discretionary funds it wants from the federal government. Maybe they do not want this or any other airport, but surely this community needs roads or greater transit service. Such indirect persuasion frequently has greater leverage than the direct litigation tactic.

It may well be that Secretary Foxx and/or Administrator Huerta and/or Associate Administrator Fornarotto are already working behind the scenes (again such less visible actions tend to be more effective, because there is no loss of face). Whatever can be done, by whomever, should be done; because Solberg Airport is a useful, if not a critical aviation asset in the greater New York metropolitan area. For further information, go to the Solberg Airport’s website.

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