On Thursday, August 9, Martha’s Vineyard Airport commissioners unanimously agreed to rebid a contract to remove hazardous materials from a well house that has held up progress on the much-anticipated new business park location.
The well house, located in an area the commissioners referred to as “low-hanging fruit,” needs to be removed, along with any asbestos or materials that could pose a human health risk. According to airport manager Ann Richart, the project was bid in the fall, and did not receive any takers.
Matthew O’Brien, project engineer for planning, engineering, and construction company McFarland Johnson, said his goal is to rebid the hazmat mitigation project in “either late September or early October.”
He explained that the bid will get a better price in that time frame, because companies will be looking for work, as opposed to being swamped with work in the busy season. “If they’re not hungry, we’re not going to get a good price,” O’Brien said.
Commissioner Don Ogilvie asked O’Brien if anything on the proposed land release chart would impede the plan to find leases in January. O’Brien explained that he does not plan on leasing the land until the well is gone; he said he has the permit to remove the well, but the airport just needs to find someone willing to do the work in removing the hazardous material and the well.
Commission chairman Bob Rosenbaum said they would not start construction until the well is taken care of. “There is a lot that goes on before they will actually bring the bulldozers in,” Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum said the airport cannot award leases until the land for the business park area is released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and, he explained, “The release isn’t going to happen till the first of the year,” Rosenbaum said.
O’Brien said he is anticipating the land release in December.
In order to spread the word that the bid is out, O’Brien said he is going to extend the bid process and give contractors a flexible period in the spring to do the work.
“Anytime from February or March or so, you can get in there,” he said.
Although it should only take 30 days to remove the well, O’Brien said the process leading up to construction is going to be a longer haul.
According to O’Brien, Tetra Tech, a provider of consulting and engineer services, conducted tests in a particular area of land in the proposed land release that had been used as a dump site.
After digging test pits and using radar penetration, Tetra Tech found metallics in the soil and other waste, including a package of Wonder Bread and a can of hairspray that both looked to be from the 1960s.
Richart said the good news is that Tetra Tech did not find any hazardous materials. “The bad news is it was a dump site,” she said. “So it looks like we are going to have to do a dump site cleanup.”
According to O’Brien, another piece of good news is that Tetra Tech did not find any contamination in water tests.
In other business, the FAA has allotted $1 billion in extra funding to be made available over three years to airports around the country. Richart said for the first year, the money will be prioritized for small airports like the one on Martha’s Vineyard. After that time, the money will be available for larger airports for the next 2 fiscal years. The airport can apply for the additional funding, so long as they provide specifics on exactly what it will be used for. Richart said it is important that commissioners act on the opportunity before larger airports are allowed access to the funds. She suggested applying for funding for a new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) truck, since the current truck is old and in need of repairs. According to Richart, the airport would receive 95 percent funding for the new truck.
She said she is “99 percent certain” the airport will be approved for the new ARFF vehicle.
Commissioners unanimously approved the development of a bid for the truck, not to exceed $20,000.