AOPA President Phil Boyer (center)
with Riverhead Town Council Supervisor
Robert Kozakiewicz and AOPA member
Mark Houraney, who arranged the meeting.
Calverton's vast runways and aprons
hold great potential as a GA airport.
AOPA President Phil Boyer stepped in on Wednesday to push for another public-use airport to serve the critical need for general aviation capacity in the New York/Long Island area.
Boyer met with local media and town officials from Riverhead, N.Y., to discuss the future of Calverton Corporate Air Park, a massive private-use airport on the grounds of a former U.S. naval air station. The airport has been underutilized since the Navy left some eight years ago and transferred the property to the township. Local developers have expressed interest in developing housing on the land.
"The town should resist pressure from the developers and instead work to fulfill the vast potential of Calverton," said Boyer. "This former military field, turned into a general aviation airport open to all, could become an economic engine for the region."
The town of Riverhead became the owners of the property during one of the rounds of military base realignments and closures during the 1990s. The airport has a 10,000-foot and a 7,000-foot runway. It sits far enough east of metropolitan New York City to be away from the approaches and departures at JFK and La Guardia airports, but close enough to provide access to the metropolitan region.
"There is a critical lack of capacity for general aviation aircraft in the New York City area," said Boyer. "Keeping this airport operational and opening it to public use could go a long way to filling that need."
Boyer pointed to other communities, such as San Bernardino County (California), which have seen great benefits from taking over a former military airport and turning it into a GA field.
And to answer the "nimby-noisers" (not in my backyard because airplanes make noise) in the community, Boyer explained how, with an airport as large as Calverton, the noise "footprint" stays inside the airport property.
He also presented local offices with AOPA's 200-page airport support package and a copy of the AOPA video Local Airports: Access to America.