Wantage to hire a consultant

| 22 Feb 2012 | 07:56

    $150,000 grant will help town decide whether to buy airport WANTAGE - Wantage Township has taken another step toward becoming an airport owner. The township has been notified by the New Jersey Department of Transportation that it will receive a grant for $150,000 to see whether it makes sense to buy Sussex Airport. The grant will fund a “feasibility study” meant to uncover the pros and cons of airport ownership for Wantage. At the top of the list will be whether owning the airport can generate additional revenue for the municipality, said Mayor Parker Space. Already on tax rolls Sussex Airport, located off County Route 639, has been owned by Paul Styger since the mid-1950s and generates roughly $29,000 a year in tax receipts for the town, said Space. If the feasibility study determines that airport revenues would more than offset the taxes it would lose from purchasing the airport, then the township committee may elect to buy the property, said Space. Any decision to purchase the airport would likely be made by the township committee and not placed before residents to vote on, he said. “If it’s a money pit, then it’s throwing good money after bad and it wouldn’t make sense,” said Space. Wantage Township Administrator Jim Doherty said he is working with state officials to develop request-for-proposals that the town would submit to a set of consultants recommended by the DOT. The consultant selected would prepare the feasibility study. Doherty said he expects to obtain a list of potential consultants from the state and contact them this week; he then would expect responses and bids from the consultants by the end of February and award a contract to conduct the feasibility study by early March. The study is expected to take six to nine months to complete, he said. Protecting against development Township administrator James Doherty proposed that Wantage look into buying the airport back in November. The Township Committee unanimously approved the plan to pursue a feasibility study, seeing it as a possible way to stave off development of the 96-acre property on which the airport sits. Paul Styger, the airport’s owner, has said he’s had at least one interested buyer for the property. But because Styger has received grants from the Federal Aviation Administration to improve the airport in recent years, the property must be retained as an airport for at least 20 years.