2002-08-15 / Front Page
Marlboro Airport owners
to close facility Sept. 30
to close facility Sept. 30
By karl vilacoba
Almost 50 years of local history may have come to an end in 10 sentences when the owners of the Marlboro Airport, Route 79, Marlboro, officially announced plans to cease operations as of Sept. 30.
David Berman, managing member of ownership group Marlboro Holdings, LLC, announced the move in a letter last week to Marlboro Mayor Matthew Scan-napieco and the Township Council. Ac-cording to the letter, necessary forms were filed and sent to the state Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics.
"We felt that the development of age-restricted homes on 60-by-120-foot lots was the best use of the property. We also felt, and continue to feel, that such a project would serve the needs of the aging population while adding no burden to the Marlboro School District. We remain steadfast in our belief that this request represents all of the best interests of the public as well as our interests as the property owners," Berman wrote.
In this latest letter, no mention was made of the safety issues, increased police patrols since Sept. 11 or the nearby Marlboro Early Learning Center that were cited in an initial letter from the airport owners to the Planning Board requesting the property’s rezoning.
Berman did not return a phone call left at his Staten Island, N.Y., office on Mon-day. Part-owner Ken Parker declined to comment on the situation.
Jay Thorpe, of the Committee to Save Marlboro Airport, said there is nothing the group can do to stop the airport’s closure, but vowed to oppose the rezoning "to the last moment." Thorpe said he will work with others to attempt to secure private or government funding to preserve the facility.
In the letter to municipal officials, Berman seemed to address financial issues relating to the facility, adding, "Despite our best efforts, we have to face the reality that it is not possible for us to continue to operate the property as an airport."
In previous interviews with Greater Media Newspapers, Parker said that the airport’s business suffered dramatically after Sept. 11.
However, several airport supporters have said it was mismanagement on the owners’ part that was responsible for any losses.
"It’s interesting to me that it remained profitable for more than 40 years before they owned it. You don’t have to be a business major to see that they’ve tried to run the place into the ground," Thorpe said.
The airport first received its operation permits in 1954 when it consisted of little more than a few grass landing strips on a farm owned by Rhea Preston.
After a few ownership changes, Marlboro Holdings LLC bought the property for $1.1 million in February 2000 from Aletta Genova, acting as executrix of the will of M. Leonard Genova. Berman mortgaged the property for a $1.75 million loan from Northfield Savings Bank, Staten Island, on Feb. 20, about one month after his original letter to the Planning Board.
The over 50-acre airport is now part of an over 150-acre zone recommended on the Marlboro master plan amendment for age-restricted rezoning by the Township Council. That expanded area includes a few other large connected properties beginning with the airport, crossing Harbor Road to the south and stretching to Tennent Road.
Marlboro Councilwoman Mary Singer said she could not comment on any rezoning issues currently before the council, but was disappointed that no other ownership group for the airport could be found. Although Thorpe claims Marlboro Hold-ings has refused to consider private offers to buy the airport and continue operations, Singer said no such documents have been copied to the council.
"The airport’s been a real asset for Marlboro, and I’m disappointed they couldn’t find a different buyer," Singer said. "It’s different than buying something like a drugstore and keeping it open as a drugstore — it’s a very specialized operation."