Keith Holt, AOPA State Affairs mgr.;
Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford;
Roger Cohen, AOPA Regional Affairs VP
Feb. 11, 2004 — As part of AOPA's ongoing effort to protect and preserve general aviation airports, AOPA told the mayor of Atlantic City that Bader Field (AIY) is a valuable asset the city should hold onto. In a face-to-face meeting, Regional Affairs Vice President Roger Cohen and State Affairs Manager Keith Holt urged Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford to keep open Bader Field when the airport's federal grant obligations expire in 2006. But the mayor told AOPA that the future of Bader Field would be determined "by the citizens of Atlantic City" when next year's municipal elections decide the mayor's race and three seats of the seven-member city council.
"We opened a good dialogue with a good man, but we clearly have a difficult task ahead convincing the decision-makers in Atlantic City that Bader Field needs to remain open," said Cohen. "Organizing and activating the general aviation world on this high-visibility issue — and making a strong case to Atlantic City — is something we will be working on over the next year."
Cohen and Holt stressed the close-in location of Bader Field to the city's famed boardwalk and growing casino industry, and that the general aviation field would boost the city's economic future. However, Langford remained non-committal about any future plans, particularly since federal requirements mandated the airport keep operating through 2005.
While recognizing the historical value of Bader Field, recounting that the term "airport" was coined there, Mayor Langford also indicated that Atlantic City International offered his community convenient aviation facilities. The mayor also stressed that neighborhoods adjacent to Bader want the airport closed "immediately."
Langford indicated the city had been approached by several developers seeking to convert the Bader site to commercial or residential uses and that there would be strong political support for such a move. On the other hand, the mayor said that there was little visible political constituency locally for keeping Bader Field open.