Two bidders vie to conduct airport purchase study

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:14

    Township must decide whether one consultant is worth nearly twice the other, By Tom Hoffman WANTAGE n Before Wantage Township officials determine whether it makes sense to buy Sussex Airport, they must first decide whether to hire an aviation consulting firm that has a deep bench or march to the sound of a one-man band. Two firms made presentations to the Wantage Township Committee at its March 26 meeting. One will be named at the committee’s April 9 meeting. DY Consultants Inc. of Roslyn Heights, N.Y., has 25 to 30 staffers. Several have operational experience from having worked at Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, N.Y., and Westchester County Airport. QED Airport & Aviation Consultants of Amelia Island, Fla., is operated solely by its owner Ron Price. Dennis Yap, president of DY Consultants, told Wantage Committee members how his company conducted a municipal airport study on behalf of Lakewood Township in New Jersey. Lakewood purchased a 192-acre private airport in 1996, according to a New York Times article. Deal or no deal Bill DeBoer, Deputy Mayor for Wantage Township, asked Yap if his firm would be able to provide the township an unbiased report about whether the purchase of Sussex Airport makes sense for Wantage. “All airports, at first look, are a bad deal,” said Yap, who claimed to have visited Sussex Airport and said that it “needs work.” But he went on to say that his company could provide Wantage with an “objective” report. When asked by DeBoer why DY Consultants tendered a bid for the six-month airport study project at nearly twice the price of QED — $139,845.86 for DY Consultants vs. $80,000 for QED n Yap responded that his company “would explore every angle with no stone left unturned.” Yap added that his company would also report on what might happen to the airport if it were to remain in the hands of its current owner, Paul Styger, who has operated it since the mid-1950s. Yap said his company could also offer Wantage recommendations on how to operate a municipal airport, should the town decide to purchase the 96-acre airport located off County Route 639. Consultant Ron Price of QED is a one-man operation. With 37 years of aviation industry experience, Price said he has consulted for airports throughout the country. In New Jersey, he conducted a study on behalf of Camden County, which considered the purchase of a private airport there last year. Like Yap, Price also said he could offer the township an objective look at the pros and cons of purchasing the airport. He said he has visited the airport several times and found the conditions to be “lacking.” He listed the runway and airplane tie-downs as two areas in need of attention. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done” to the airport’s infrastructure, said Price, who also offered to review untapped revenue opportunities for the airport, including the possibility for area businesses to fly private aircraft in and out of the facility. The numbers Wantage can spend up to $150,000 to study whether to buy the airport, thanks to a grant from the state Department of Transportation. Two firms have bid to conduct the study: DY Consultants bid just under $140,000 QED Consultants bid $80,000