MANVILLE – The Central Jersey airport where President Joe Biden landed today for years created havoc in the adjoining neighborhood.
The protestations of the neighbors caused the airport owner so much grief that on the day he buried his wife he looked across the graveyard and the idea briefly occurred to him to turn the airport into a graveyard.
“I could make more money, Lord knows,” he told InsiderNJ.
“Without the headaches,” he added.
But he loved flying too much to do that, and soon returned to taking care of the hanger and his planes in between fighting the late Sally Saharko – a nun turned relentless community activist and founder of a group called TIGER (Truth in Government Expected by Residents).
“I don’t want any jets in that airport,” Manville Mayor Angelo Corradino told the owner, with members of TIGER sitting in the front row in Borough Hall.
“Who is HE to tell ME what kind of planes I can have at my airport?” the owner fumed.
Today, the airport served as a benign backdrop to government trying to deliver something at least approximating truth to one of the other myriad hassles, heartbreaks and agonies of Manville: wreckage wrought by Hurricane Ida.
A local pizza man told InsiderNJ that secret service had shown up a day earlier and snooped around the place. By the time the osprey aircraft carrying pool reporters and the helicopter bearing the president appeared over the tree line amid Apocalypse Now atmospherics, the place had turned into something resembling a full-blown airbase.
Biden got off of Marine One and walked over to a group of dignitaries that included Governor Phil Murphy, and congress people Frank Pallone, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Tom Malinowski.
They rambled off the tarmac in one of several oversized, safari-tough, ground command vehicles bound for Hillsborough (where they would hook up with Senator Cory Booker) and then Manville.
Much of the backstory in the lead up to Biden landing involves how deep the disaster designation would go in New Jersey, with other counties behind six impact areas demanding equal treatment.
It’s coming, say Democratic Party sources.
The current disaster declaration includes Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic, and Somerset counties.
Of course, the storm wasn’t the only thing that ravaged this area.
Overdevelopment turned this bygone horse country saddled by environmentally sensitive wetlands almost overnight into a supposedly luxury-conscious impervious surface. Through it all, Manville has served as one of the area’s receptacles for dreary and nonexistent planning.
While Biden projected empathetic manhugginess in the Lost Valley this afternoon, Pallone, Booker and Malinowski crowded around and filmed him with their phones. Watson Coleman – aviator sunglasses in place, like Biden – radiated subdued, arms-folded attentiveness and public restraint.
Soon Biden would be gone.
The pilots in their combat green jumpsuits who had crowded into the sleepy Central Jersey Airport hanger went back to the ospreys and the choppers.
The president marched across the tarmac alone.
It had to have been one of the most dramatic landings and take-offs in the history of this place, a long time removed from the impassioned public spats of TIGER and the airport owner.
But the flooding seemed to never end in Manville.