Friday, September 23, 2011

Commentary: Town Council has no clue on how to run Hammonton Municipal Airport (N81), New Jersey.

I read the 9/10 article in the Press of Atlantic City concerning the Hammonton Airport with amazement. The apparent spin put on the facts by both the Mayor and the Airport Administrator was astounding.

The first thing I wonder about is the qualifications of Rock Colasurdo to even hold that position. Simply having a business background does not qualify one to run an airport. Not to mention that his business background has been littered with many questionable decisions over the years, decisions that seemed to indicate an attitude of "do what's best for me and take the consequences later." It would seem that even the Press would have wondered about his appointment since they have had to write several stories about him over the years.

In reading the story it is obvious that each side holds a different version of the truth to be true and it's time that the truth be found out.

Obviously if the Town Administration had appointed a qualified individual from the previous airport commission the Council would have avoided the embarrassment of making a decision and resolution over an issue where they have no legal jurisdiction. Only the FAA has jurisdiction over airspace and yet the Town Solicitor and the Airport Administrator both allowed the Council to take an illegal and embarrassing action that would be swiftly overturned.

And now, in a childish move, the Airport has blocked access to the runways for one of the longest most reliable tenants and sources of income. It is another strong arm tactic that has become typical of the current government. The tenant has been willing and has offered continued payments for gate access while negotiations continue. But the current Administrator has refused to negotiate in good faith and has refused the payments. He states, “Once you accept that, you have a contract." What a farce, that is like saying if you pay a teacher while they work without a new contract and they accept that payment, you have a new contract. Simply not true. The tractor needs to be removed at once and a different negotiator or arbiter capable of completing the negotiations be brought in.
In another statement, Rock Colasurdo says "“There’s just too much traffic coming in. We have gliders and twin-engine planes and two helicopters based there now. At this point, the traffic is just not conducive to people doing aerobatics.” What Rock is really saying is he is not capable of administering the airport and scheduling different activities to use the airport to it's absolute fullest and maximizing it's full potential in income. An airport has many uses and if we are not able to take advantage of all of it's activities, we will never reach it's full potential of providing an income to the Town rather than a drain on the general budget.

As for the statements by Rock and the Mayor about the success of the airport, one only needs to drive by to see the drop in the number of planes using our airport as a base.
The Administrator states we have a Medivac helicopter based here. It is my understanding that it is not based here, we have a facility that fixes these copters but the crew and operation is based at another airport.
And how long are we going to hear about a restaurant being interested in coming to the airport. We have spent possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating this facility and yet no real interest by anyone to open a restaurant there. It has been tried in the past and did not work.

Since the Town Council obviously views the Airport has a distraction rather than a viable entity capable of being a first class facility with great potential for income to the Town, it is time to demand that the current Administrator be replaced and we bring in a person with experience and knowledge to run the airport efficiently and fairly to all. Someone who can allow the airport to be used to it's full potential. Someone who will make our airport an extension of what the Town of Hammonton stands for, a place we can be proud of with high standards and a friendliness that allows anyone to take advantage of what we have to offer. 

There are several capable people who live right here in Hammonton who have been pushed aside by the current administration to make room for political patronage. While it is true that the majority of Hammontonians do not use the airport, it can be a source of income that will not only stop wasting tax dollars, but could actually reduce taxes when it becomes a viable revenue source. Call the Town Council members, send them e-mails, let your voice be heard. We the taxpayers want qualified and experienced people serving our Town and we need to make a change at the Airport to eliminate another embarrassment to the Town of Hammonton.

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