Editor’s note: The following was submitted as a letter to the editor. Given the conversation this topic has generated over the past several years, and in recent weeks, we have chosen to run it on today’s cover. It reflects the mayor’s opinion of the situation.
If you are a longtime Readington resident, the chances are that you have strong feelings on the issue of Solberg Airport. Maybe it’s an issue that you don’t discuss with certain friends or neighbors because they feel so differently. If you are relatively new in town, you have every right to be confused by all this. It may be helpful to look at the history of the issue:
Solberg Airport was established in 1939 and has been operated continuously since then by a family proud of their airport and its history and the late Thor Solberg Senior’s aviation firsts. The quaint, 100-acre, public-use general aviation airport is surrounded by 625 acres of beautiful open space, which is the largest unpreserved tract remaining in Readington Township. Residents almost universally love the airport as it exists today, enjoy its scenic surroundings and the various happenings there, including the N.J. Festival of Ballooning.
Researching the history of Solberg Airport in the archives of local newspapers adds more to the story. It begins to explain the current controversy in our township that dates back over 45 years. In the late 1960s, the New York-New Jersey Port Authority announced that it had chosen Solberg Airport as the site of the fourth jetport for the New York metropolitan area. From their prospective, it was an obvious choice. The Solberg Airport property, which is larger in land mass than La Guardia, has favorable topography, is located only 60 minutes from New York City, and sits just on the edge of the nation’s, and possibly the world’s, busiest airspace.
There are a number of Readington residents who can still proudly recount the epic battle that followed. It was a fight not just for Readington Township, but for the future of central New Jersey. As the story goes, residents chartered buses and descended on Trenton in numbers so great that Governor Hughes, standing on the steps of the capital about to announce the approval of the new jetport was so moved by the size of the crowd, that he quietly put his speech back in his pocket and joined the people’s fight.