By Richard L. Gaw
Two members of The New Garden Hangar Association, formed in order to develop plans to build two rows of additional hangars built at the New Garden Flying Field, have severed their ties with the group, it was announced at the New Garden Board of Supervisors on Nov. 25.
Speaking before the board, Flying Field Manager Jon Martin said that in meetings with the group over the last several months, that there had been a “growing concern” about the correct terms of the land use agreement related to the construction and use of the hangars. In order to help answer these concerns, Martin said that he asked the group to provide him with their version of the terms they would like to see incorporated into the land use agreement.
After struggling for weeks to do so, the group presented Martin the terms that they'd like to see on Nov. 18. However, plans to review these changes with the board on Nov. 25 were derailed this past weekend, when two members – whom Martin did not name – sent him e-mails, expressing that they were “no longer comfortable with the terms that they had put forward,” Martin told the board.
The New Garden Hangar Association was formed this past fall with the intent to own and operate these two facilities, which it had planned to build in 2014. The Association was formally introduced at the township's Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 23.
Their formation was the outgrowth of action that began over three years ago, when the air field set its sights on the construction of two new hangars, to be built on the air field's property, measuring 25,000 square feet and housing 19 individual hangars – 17 “T” hangars and two "box” hangars. In January 2012, the air field signed a contract with the Hangar Corporation of America in order to build and maintain the project and acquire tenants to rent the available space. However, after little involvement on behalf of the corporation, and due to lack of payment of the agreed-upon land lease fee spelled out in the contract, the air field terminated its contract with the Hangar Corporation of America in June of this year.
With the contract terminated and still looking at options to finish this project, the air field was approached by registered pilots Richard Kellerman and Chris Ungermann, as well as several other potential investors who were interested in taking over the construction and ownership of the two hangars.
Speaking before the board at its Sept. meeting, Kellerman said that the group was in the process of setting up a limited liability corporation (LLC) and obtained the services of Kennett Square attorney Neil Land to help develop the corporation. Once the LLC is in place, he said, the group would develop its marketing plan in order to attract potential users of the hangars.
The advantages of this arrangement, Ungermann told the supervisors, would be that the hangars would basically be sold at cost – the price per hangar has not yet been finalized -- and that it would benefit from an aggressive marketing campaign.
As of September, the hangars had commitments from five potential tenants, and Kellerman said that he was 80 to 90 percent confident that the corporation would be able to find the remaining 14 tenants for these hangars in the next two months, in time for the Nov. 25 meeting.
With the project now stalled, the supervisors recommended to Martin that he pursue other options that could lead to the development of the additional hangars, but not at the risk of the residents of New Garden Township.
“We need to get the hangars built, but I'm not willing to put Joe Taxpayer on the hook for paying for it,” said board chairman Stephen Allaband.
Martin said that there are still three individuals from the investment group still interested in pursuing other options. “I still believe it's an opportunity that you can't find in any other airport,” Martin said after meeting with the supervisors. “We're offering a land use agreement that allows someone to come and build a hangar at cost, and put their aircraft there. On my level, we need to consider other options to determine what Plan B is.”