A key general aviation airport in the New York City metropolitan area has taken a major step to address deteriorating conditions and management concerns that have put the facility’s eligibility for federal airport improvement funds at risk.
Linden Airport in New Jersey faces challenges that have resulted from official inattention including lax oversight of the city’s airport management contractor, Linden Aviation Management. The city of Linden submitted a corrective action plan to the FAA in response to an official complaint about the airport that detailed 12 instances of potential noncompliance with FAA grant terms.
In a July 26 letter to the FAA, Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said the corrective action plan reflected the city’s “goal to achieve and maintain compliance with all of its grant assurances and obligations.” However, Armstead supported the City Council’s action at an Aug. 20 session to pass a moratorium on applying for or accepting new grants from the federal airport improvement program.
“While we’re disappointed in the City Council’s resolution to refuse much needed funding for the airport, we thank the Mayor for submitting a corrective action plan to the FAA,” said Mike Ginter, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “The Mayor's commitment to bringing the airport into compliance is exactly what is needed to improve the overall health of Linden Airport, and what has been lacking at the airport while under the control of the management contractor, Linden Aviation Management. There is much more to be done to ensure the future of Linden Airport, and we look forward to working with his administration in the months and years to come.”
For many years AOPA has urged improvements at Linden Airport and has held numerous meetings with local officials. In December 2018, Ginter presented AOPA’s airport advocacy position to the City Council. AOPA reported at that time that Armstead agreed Linden Airport was “a tremendous asset” for his city and said he would make focusing on the facility a priority in 2019, “so we can get a bigger bang for our buck out there.”
Despite the city’s positive response to the need to make improvements, however, the corrective action plan noted that the airport’s management leaseholder, Linden Aviation Management, run by Paul Dudley, did not participate in preparing the corrective actions, “despite repeated requests to do so.”
In its directive, the FAA raised the issue of Dudley’s use of a hangar for storage of “personal effects” and requested that the city reevaluate “whether the $21,000 lease for this space is appropriate.”
“We will continue to work with the city as it follows through on the commitment to maintain the airport,” said Adam Williams, AOPA manager of airport policy, who has visited Linden on numerous occasions to attend meetings and work with airport supporters. “A key part of the plan is quarterly inspection to be conducted by the City Engineer of the airport property. This is the first indication of direct involvement by the City staff in the management of the airport—a very welcome change,” he said.