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Historic Environmental Movements of Warwick

This guide presents material on the history of social movements and activism about Warwick's environment.

Aviation Infrastructure vs. Food Production 1960-1962

The New York Metro area was experiencing terrible congestion at its airports.  New Jersey was vehemently opposed to siting another one in their state. Several other options had been examined, and , the large, open expanse of land at the edge of the New York Metro area, the Black Dirt Region, looked like it could work.  Acre upon acre of flat, cleared land just waiting to be black topped for runways to relieve the congestion at New York area airports.

It was an unworkable idea, but apparently persisted. What regional officials did not count on is that the farmers of the black dirt and other area citizens valued the heritage of their land-- cleared and drained with countless hours of their families' labor over many decades-- and they would make the case that keeping the area a "food basket" was equally essential, providing food security and adding to the economy of the region.

Vigorous protests were mounted to forestall any more thought in this direction.  According to the "official" Congressional timeline published in 1968, Governor Rockefeller of New York was still pushing for the jetport on the Black Dirt in 1964 and 1965, but the long discussions involving creation of a new airport eventually diminished as existing facilities found ways to become more manageable.

Timeline & Resources

1959 December Port Authority of New York issues a report on the need for a  new airport, after studying 15 possible locations.  Preferred location is the Great Swamp in New Jersey, which is soundly rejected by New Jersey.
1960 June Opposition to the chosen location in New Jersey leads Port Authority to take another look at the alternates.  Black Dirt farmers become aware of the interest, form a committee, and begin to launch protests.

1960 Summer

Landowners and residents of the area become more vocal in their protests
1961 Local groups continue pressure on officials.  Orange County Board of Supervisors appoints Jetport Study Committee, who file a report. 
1963-64 Governor Rockefeller of New York continues to advocate for creation of the Black Dirt jetport, but it comes to nothing.