The former Dutchess Hangar at Martha’s Vineyard Airport will soon serve as a helicopter base for Vineyard Wind’s offshore wind farm.
The hangar was approved for bidding as surplus property at a prior commission meeting in February, and a request for proposals (RFP) was issued. The hangar lease also includes the approximately 19,190-square-foot property that it sits on. Vineyard Wind was the sole bidder on the hangar property, and was awarded the lease by the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission during a special meeting Thursday morning.
The land rental rate for the property is $1.34 per square foot, and Vineyard Wind has agreed in its contract with the airport to review the lease rate every five years and make adjustments if necessary, based on fair market value requirements set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration. An annual Consumer Price Index evaluation and adjustment is also stipulated in the lease.
Vineyard Wind will be responsible for removing the existing hangar and building the new helicopter hangar.
Vineyard Wind has agreed to tow its helicopters to and from the takeoff site, so they won’t need to run their turbines in areas near where other aircraft are taking off and landing.
After the 40-year lease expires, the property will either revert directly back to the airport as owned land, or another RFP will be issued, and Vineyard Wind will have the opportunity to bid again.
Airport director Geoff Freeman said that after 40 years and potentially three master plans later, the hangar area could be needed for a use that is more directly related to airport operations.
“So at the end of that 40 years, that lease could end completely, the airport takes over control, removes that hangar, and creates more apron space, terminal space, or whatever else we need at that time,” Freeman said, although that decision is far down the road.
Aviation activities aren’t expected to begin out of the Vineyard Wind hangar until 2023, and the massive commercial wind farm is slated to begin operating in 2024, with a federal government lease of 25 years from the start of operation.
Commissioners voted to award Vineyard Wind the lease, with commissioner Kristin Zern abstaining due to her prior work with Richard Andre (president of Vineyard Power, a partner in the wind farm) on Adult Continuing Education of Martha’s Vineyard.
Commissioner Bob Zeltzer said the airport should be pleased to welcome Vineyard Wind. “From a conservation point of view, it’s a wonderful venture. In reading their background material, they are extremely proficient and experienced in this area, and I don’t think we could expect to have a better organization here. It’s good for the Vineyard Airport to be the base of Vineyard Wind,” Zeltzer said.