Officials Announce Establishment of Airport Historic District
Laud Economic Prospects of Cape May Airport
(Lower Township, NJ) Freeholder Will Morey and representatives of Cape May County, the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA), the Naval Air Station Wildwood (NASW), the Township of Lower, and the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office gathered at sites within the Cape May Airport on December 4, to officially recognize and celebrate the establishment of the new NASW Historic District. The New Jersey Historic Preservation Office placed the District on the State’s Register of Historic Places in late August 2013.
Located on a site within the Airport, the new NASW Historic District includes historic Hangar # 1, a cavernous structure that was a training facility for dive-bombers and fighter aircraft during WWII and now houses an aviation museum; Hangar # 2, home to Penn Turbo, a company that specializes in repurposing DeHaviland cargo aircraft; the Terminal Building, which functioned as a control tower and operations center; and a defined “buffer zone” that preserves space without interfering with Airport operations or the business/ industrial portion of the Airport.
At Wednesday’s celebration, speakers offered brief remarks at Hangar #1 before gathering for a luncheon at the Flight Deck Restaurant, which is also part of the new historic district. Dan Saunders, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer for the Department of Environmental Protection, presented the designation during the event.
Cape May County Freeholder Will Morey stressed the importance of the District to the future economic development of the Airport, surrounding communities, and the County at large. He also praised Dr. Joseph Salvatore, founder of the NASW.
“Dr. Salvatore has worked tirelessly to bring the naval station’s history to life by raising public awareness of its importance during World War II, and by preserving military aviation and artifacts,” Morey said. “The museum is a treasure and a great attraction for our community.”
“To their great credit, the stakeholders who are here today were able to collaborate creatively to find a path that honors the great historic value of the naval air station, while also unleashing the exciting economic development prospects that the Airport represents to surrounding communities and all County residents,” Morey stated. He cited existing Airport operations and airpark development opportunities on the Airport’s 1,000-acre campus. “It’s critically important for the Airport to contribute to the County’s economic development agenda,” he said.
Dr. Salvatore noted that historic designation can mean additional funding. “We’re excited to have an agreement in place that may provide for increased grant funding opportunities at the Federal and State level to further rehabilitate the buildings in the NASW Historic District,” he said. “Our next step is to register the new district on the National Register of Historic Places.” Placement on the National Register is expected as early as January 2014.
In 1999, the Delaware River and Bay Authority entered into a 30-year agreement with Cape May County to operate, manage, and develop the County Airport. The Authority also assumed responsibility for much of the business/industrial park land associated with the Airport facility.
DRBA Executive Director Scott Green said the agency maintained an open dialogue with all stakeholders to reach a mutually beneficial conclusion. “I want to thank NASW Museum Director Dr. Joseph Salvatore, Freeholder Will Morey, Mayor Mike Beck and Lower Township officials for working cooperatively with us on a path forward,” Green said. “We wanted to find common ground and believe this compromise agreement reflects a District that took into consideration the objectives of Cape May County, the Authority and the Museum.”
“A few days from now, we will remember and reflect on the attack on Pearl Harbor,” observed James N. Hogan, Chairman of the DRBA. “The Naval Air Station Wildwood served a vital role during WWII and Dr. Salvatore has done a tremendous job preserving that history. With the creation of the Historic District, we will ensure that future generations can appreciate its history, too.”
Freeholder Morey concluded, “This is a very significant “Win/ Win” scenario in which the past truly complements and supports the future.”
About the Delaware River and Bay Authority
The Delaware River and Bay Authority, a bi-state governmental agency created by Compact in 1962, owns and operates the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Cape May- Lewes Ferry, and the Delaware City - Salem Ferry Crossing. The Authority also manages corporate and aviation properties through its economic development powers - two airports in New Jersey (Millville Airport and Cape May Airport) and three in Delaware (New Castle Airport, Civil Air Terminal and Delaware Airpark). All agency operating revenues are generated through the bridge, ferry and airport facilities.
Photo Caption: Dan Saunders, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, presents the New Jersey Historic District Preservation Designation certificate to (from left to right) DRBA Chairman James Hogan, Cape May County Freeholder Will Morey, and NASW Founder Dr. Joseph Salvatore at a ceremony held inside the Aviation Museum.