April 20, 2016

There is a certain irony to the Letter to the Editor from Mr. Ed Nagle, who is the husband of Suzy Solberg Nagle, co-owner of Solberg Airport. 

Mr. Nagle claims that decades' worth of negotiations between the Solbergs and Readington Township over the fate of the lands surrounding Solberg Airport have failed because the "approach is wrong". He points to the Princeton Airport story as a model the Solbergs would accept if only the Township would be willing.

Let's look at the Princeton model. The Princeton Airport has about 100 acres of operational land (same as Solberg Airport), a 3500' runway, 150,000 sq ft of hanger space, has made substantial safety improvements since the agreement in 1996, has virtually no jet traffic and appears to be a thriving business.  But here's the kicker: Montgomery Township owns a strip of land about 500' beyond the existing runway, making it impossible for the Princeton Airport to extend the length of its runway to accommodate jets. It seems that piece of land was purchased by the Township in 1999, right about the time that negotiations panned out.

Mr. Nagle says that negotiations are failing because Readington insists on negotiating positions instead of issues. He points to sound level as an issue, but runway length as a position. If runway length determines the size of allowable aircraft, and the size of the aircraft influences the noise level, Mr. Nagle is running in circles. Any further runway expansion will set Solberg Airport on a path towards allowing jet traffic.

 Even while this matter is still caught up in courts, Mayor Fort reiterated just last month that Readington remains ready to negotiate.  "We are always ready to negotiate...We have given all we can, our attempts have been fruitless.  Talk to them and bring us a proposal," Fort said.    

Is Mr. Nagle's letter a proposal? If only the Solbergs would agree on the land use model of the Princeton Airport - it would save us all from unnecessary conflict and expense!

We recommend that the Solbergs bring a meaningful proposal to the Township.  Both legal teams know how to contact each other. Writing negative opinion pieces only adds more innuendo to this divisive issue.  According to the Princeton Airport history detailed on their website, the Township negotiation ended in an agreement that left "everyone very satisfied" and ensured from both parties that "the efforts would be confidential and no one would speak to the press until all sides agreed."  So yes, Mr. Nagle, let's look at the Princeton Airport story and hopefully learn from it.

Citizens for Readington would like nothing better than to see this issue resolved with the airport's interests satisfied and Readington's character and quality of life preserved.

Postscript: Since our response was written, Mr. Nagle has written another letter to the editor. It is becoming evident that this is more about staging a public position favoring negotiation while continuing to have no new ideas or positive contribution to the discourse.  In the initial letter to the editor, he referred to the "new and improved Township Committee". Then, a month later, he categorizes the Mayor's comments as "insanity" and as being "factually incorrect on a number of points".  He also tries to equivocate the Princeton runway expansion from 2,700' to 3,500' with an expansion of the Solberg runway beyond the current 3,735' licensed length, which would allow large jet traffic. 

Again, the Princeton Airport model negotiations that Mr. Nagle refers to were confidential, undermining attempts at public grandstanding, such as can be seen in Mr. Nagle's Letter to the Editor. We would like to see confidentiality and sincere negotiation efforts in Readington too. 

*Access portal to Montgomery Township Interactive Map 

Why Princeton Airport Negotiations Worked