On April 12, the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission voted unanimously 5-0 to give Airport Laundromat owner Nick Catt 21 days to pay $140,000 owed to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport in back rent or lose his lease.
On Tuesday, in an email to The Times, Catt responded to the commission ruling, stating the laundromat has always paid its rent on time and that the $140,000 is for wastewater charges that have skyrocketed in recent years.
Airport Laundromat has a lease through 2026.
“On behalf of the Island community and the many businesses at the Business Park, we at the Airport Laundromat and the customers we serve are disappointed by the recent decision of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission to disregard the needs of our Island community by taking ill-advised and hostile steps to evict the Laundromat from the Airport,” he said. “The commission’s decision demonstrates a lack of understanding of the needs of the Island community, our Island environment, and basic business principles.”
Catt claimed the airport has “arbitrarily and capriciously raised wastewater rates on Business Park tenants from $8.60 per thousand gallons of wastewater to $80 per thousand gallons, a 930 percent increase.”
The rate increase, according to Catt, goes against prior commitments made by the airport to secure long-term leases with non-aviation tenants. He also said the airport receives in excess of $1.25 million in annual rent, excluding water and wastewater payments, from its non-aviation tenants. After expenses, the airport profits $1 million a year from non-aviation tenants, Catt said. “And yet this is not enough for the airport,” Catt said.
Catt added that there are no requirements placed on the airport by the Federal Aviation Administration to recover expenses of its wastewater facility on any expedited, nonamortized basis.
“In sum, the Airport Commission would have the Island believe that its aviation customers are supporting the Business Park,” Catt concluded. “This is not true. In fact, it is the Airport’s non-aviation tenants (including the Laundromat), and the Island community that patronizes them, that are subsidizing aviation activity at the Airport.”
At the April 12 commission meeting, commissioner Don Ogilvie said Airport Laundromat takes up 44 percent of the capacity for the airport’s wastewater treatment facility, which the commission is under orders from the Department of Environmental Protection to upgrade.