Katama airfield commission seeks Edgartown selectmen support


The eight-year battle to build a new, larger hangar at Katama Airfield continued Monday. Airfield commission members Mike Creato, Jim Harrison, former chairman Bob Stone, and current chairman Jamie Craig pressed Edgartown selectmen for support of their hangar plan.

“The airfield, we think, and we hope you agree, has been running really well,” Mr. Stone told the selectmen, “We can prove to you that we have the need to build a new hangar, not only to support the aviation community, but to support the rest of the Island.”

The hangar replacement planning project began in 1996. The airfield trust began raising funds in 1998, and has raised $330,000 to date. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which holds the conservation restriction on the Katama Airport, has objected to any airport expansion into protected areas.

In two separate meetings over the past year, selectmen balked at signing a conservation restriction agreement with TNC, after being advised that it placed too many restrictions on the town’s control over the hangar project.

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck said he agreed that a new hangar is necessary, but that action cannot be taken without TNC approval.

“Everybody was in agreement that there was a need,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “The issue became that because of this conservation restriction, we were presented with an untenable situation which you advised us not to sign,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “So we’re at a crossroads.”

“Do you believe we can build this hangar now, without having to sign something that nobody wants to sign?” Mr. Smadbeck asked.

Mr. Stone asked selectmen to help them navigate the next steps in the process, including asking legal advice from town counsel Ron Rappaport.

The board took no action but agreed to continue the conversation next week.

In other business Monday, selectmen approved a three-month extension for Eleven North restaurant to remain closed, contingent on the liquor license being held by the selectmen. Town administrator Pamela Dolby told selectmen that while the liquor licence has been renewed, she has not been formally notified that the restaurant is closing.

Selectmen also approved an aquaculture license for Edgartown resident Jeremy Scheffer, on water acreage adjacent to Mr. Scheffer’s father, Roy Scheffer, who is also an oyster farmer.