The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has honored New Jersey Assembly member Alex DeCroce for his efforts to protect the state's general aviation airports. DeCroce, deputy speaker and chairman of the Transportation Committee, was presented an AOPA Presidential Citation during a Pilot Town Meeting in Teterboro, N.J. April 24.
"Chairman DeCroce's creation of innovative airport legislation will help secure the future of general aviation in New Jersey," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. New Jersey Assembly Bill A2332 (which became law in December) allows the state to buy "development rights" to privately owned, public-use airports. This purchase guarantees that the airport will remain operating and that the property will not be sold for other uses.
This protection is particularly important in New Jersey. Unlike most other states, the majority of New Jersey's airports are owned and operated by private individuals for the benefit of the general public. (Local governments own the majority of public-use airports in the rest of the nation.)
Private owners of public airports in New Jersey and elsewhere are under increasing pressure to close these valuable components of the national transportation system. In fact, while the demand for airports is increasing, public-use airports are closing at the rate of one every two weeks.
AOPA also acknowledged Assembly member Nicholas R. Felice and state senators Nicholas J. Sacco and Shirley K. Turner for their work in ensuring the passage of the airport protection legislation.
Four airports have already applied to participate in the program, including Lincoln Park Airport (Lincoln Park), Central Jersey Regional Airport (Manville), Camden County Airport (Berlin), and Allaire Airport (Belmar/Farmingdale).
"This law is an important step in ensuring that the citizens of New Jersey continue to enjoy the benefits that their community airports bring them," said Boyer.
The 370,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than one half of the nation's pilots are AOPA members, as are some 9,000 New Jersey pilots.