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Chester County Press

New Garden Flying Field to host air show in August

04/19/2022 03:46PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

For one Tuesday afternoon and evening in late August this year, the skies over the New Garden Flying Field will be ablaze again with the wonders of aviation.

Speaking at the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors meeting on April 19, New Garden Flying Field Aviation Director Jon Martin announced that the Flying Field will host an air show on Aug. 30 that will include remote control aircraft displays, aerial shows, music and food vendors, a demonstration of unique automobiles, the Flying Field’s first night air show and fireworks to close out the event.

The air show signals a return to normalcy for the Flying Field, who has hosted numerous air shows such as The Festival of Flight, as well as the Chester County Balloon Festival and several running and community events over the past several years. Since 2020, however, the Flying Field has been unable to organize large-scale shows for two reasons: COVID-19, and the temporary flight restrictions (TFR), enacted by the United States Secret Service that have restricted aviation at the airport whenever President Biden is at his home in nearby Wilmington.

Hosting an air show on a Tuesday, Martin said, was a unique option.

We have been doing everything we can to work with the U.S. Secret Service to see if we could get a weekend to have such an event, but unfortunately we have been unsuccessful,” Martin said. “The air show is a very good community event for the airport, for local communities as well as for the region, so we have been looking at every option to have some resemblance of our [traditional] air shows.

“The thought process was, ‘Why don’t we try to host an event during the weekday, where we know we won’t have to be closed during a TFR?” he added.

The rain/TFR delay date for the event will be Aug. 31.

The New Garden Flying Field was also the recipient of donor funding in its purchase of a Red Bird Flight Simulator in the amount of $101,490. Calling the simulator “a great learning tool for the community,” Martin said that every dollar that the simulator generates will go toward supporting the Flying Field’s Future Aviators Camp and several After-the-Bell programs held at the Flying Field.

Sewer rate mitigation argued

Harrogate North resident Pete Mrozinski appeared before the board again to press the supervisors for the second time to request an update on the impact that the $29.5 million sale of the township’s wastewater system to Aqua in 2020 will have on sewer bills for township residents.

Mrozinski said that Aqua has ignored the terms of the final agreement in setting the rates for township users. At his first appearance before the board on March 21, Mrozinski spelled out the details of the rate increase that forecasts annual fees rising from $800 in 2020 to more than $2,000 by 2030, applicable to those residents who use an average of 48,000 gallons of wastewater a year.

He also referred to the 2019 purchase agreement between Aqua and the township, which specified a two-year rate freeze, but in September of 2019, the township and Aqua signed an amendment to the agreement that ended the rate freeze that opened the door for Aqua to raise sewer rates at its own discretion.

Mrozinski asked the board if they would agree to implement a rate mitigation program for Aqua customers in the township, and also requested to know if there was any follow-up action done by the township in the last month related to Aqua’s rate increase.

“The promises [to hold down rates after the sale] made were not made by the individual supervisors but by the township and you now represent the township, so like it or not, this falls on your shoulders,” Mrozinski said. 

To help review the conflict raised by Mrozinski over the terms of agreement between Aqua and the township, board Chairman Steve Allaband announced that the township has hired a special conflict council which he said would look into the terms of the agreement of sale and the possibility of rate mitigation. He said that the township has not yet chosen who will make up the council.

“All of the facts need to come together, and I think this is where we need a little bit of time to make an informed and reasonable decision on all of these matters,” Allaband said.

“Is the board in favor of a rate mitigation system?” Mrozinski asked the board. While Allaband and supervisor Troy Wildrick said that he would favor such a system, supervisors Kristy Brodowski, David Unger and Ted Gallivan said that they did not favor such a system. All five board members emphasized, however, that the issue needs to go before the township’s new conflict council before any reduced rate changes for Aqua customers would happen.

“I don’t think we have a mechanism in place to mitigate the rate,” Gallivan said. “We would have to come up with a process to do it, and there isn’t an easy way to do it. We may need to get Aqua to do it, and that’s not a good answer.”

“It seems a little bit…I don’t want to say ‘callous’ and ‘rude,’ but your only concern is to get money for yourself,” Unger told Mrozinski.

“I am not only here for myself,” Mrozinski said. “There are a lot of people in this community who will really hurt financially from this rate increase. It is an issue of fairness. Why should we be paying for everybody?

“When Aqua came in they said, ‘we’re going to give you $29.5 million and you can do all of these things and you don’t have to raise taxes.’ Well, they raised our taxes. They have gone far beyond what you have had to pay to get the same money, and we’re going to be paying for the rest of our lives. The more they buy, the more we pay. As they are gobbling up more communities, our bills are going up even more.”

Gallivan asked Mrozinski to be patient while the township begins to work with its special conflict council. Mrozinski criticized the township for not including its residents during negotiations for the sale.

“If you’re at the table without a fork, you’re dinner,” he said. “And that’s the way we feel.”

Other township business

The supervisors gave their approval for the township’s purchase of a 2021 Ford F550 custom ambulance for the Avondale Fire Company’s EMS unit in the amount of $300,000 – with funds from the township’s Capital Fund.

The board also approved a proposal from Natural Lands for the master planning of the Smedley Preserve – formerly the Loch Nairn Golf Course – in the amount of $12,500. The project, which will provide a long-term plan for the use of the property – which was purchased by the township in 2021 – will be funded by the Natural Lands/William Penn Foundations Delaware River Watershed Initiative and the White Clay Creek Steering Committee.

The board also approved payment in the amount of $415,000 from the township’s Capital Fund that will help fund the MS4 project with PennDOT. The township will pull this money from the $1.2 million it received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law in 2020.

The funding will be applied for projects along the Broad Run tributary that will improve water quality and stream sediment along the stream banks.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].