Hangar needs to be replaced

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To the Editor:

In April, residents of Edgartown will be asked to vote on a warrant article to reconstruct the historic Katama Airfield hangar. Here are the details. The airfield’s commissioners are asking you to vote yes for the warrant article.

The airfield was acquired by the town of Edgartown from Stephen and Dorothy Gentle in the mid-1980s as as a result of a joint agreement between the town, the state and the Nature Conservancy. A series of agreements, including a conservation management agreement, restrict permitted uses of the airfield and provide protections for flora and wildlife that share the land.

The airfield earns rental income from rental of the restaurant facility, landing and parking fees, sale of fuel, and other miscellaneous operations conducted at the airfield. The rental of the hangar will also supplement total airfield revenues. The hangar will also provide office space for the airfield manager and storage space for airfield activities.

The present-day hangar is falling down. It was originally pieced together from remnants of two larger buildings that were destroyed in a 1944 hurricane. The hangar is the iconic structure on the airfield that links its historic past as an Army training field and an early Civil Air Patrol base. Edgartown’s Katama Airfield is one of few grass airstrips remaining, and treasured as a fun destination by New England–based pilots. The airfield’s restaurant serves countless residents and summer visitors who love to watch the small planes land and take off. A new hangar has been designed and permitted that replicates the historic look of the current hangar, and increases the floor area from 3,000 to approximately 6,000 square feet.

Details of the history of the airfield and the proposed hangar can be viewed on katamaairfield.com.

At present, all of the conservation agreements that preserve town, state and the Nature Conservancy’s interests in the airfield have been modified and executed to approve the new hangar. Additionally, Edgartown’s selectmen, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and the Edgartown board of health have approved the project. The town’s building inspector has reviewed the plans, and indicates he is ready to issue a permit pursuant to our ability to commence the project.

Current estimates project the building’s cost at $1 million ($156.25 per square foot). The Katama Airfield Trust has approximately $75,000 committed to the project, and the town of Edgartown’s Community Preservation Act funding approved $200,000 in 2008. The proposed town warrant article would seek to raise the remaining $725,000. Once the construction funds are secured, the town’s procurement office will solicit public bids for construction in accordance with Massachusetts procurement regulations.

Katama Airfield’s general manager, the airfield’s commissioners, Edgartown’s conservation commission, and the town of Edgartown are fully dedicated to seeing this project through to completion, and believe it will retain all the sense of a small grass airfield reminiscent of aviation’s early years.

Please vote to approve this warrant article.

Patrick E. Bradley, James T. Craig, Harald B. Findlay, Chair, Fr. Michael R. Nagle, Edward W. Vincent Jr.
The Katama Airfield Commission
Edgartown