Airport commission responds to misinformation


To the Editor:

There has been a great deal of misinformation that has appeared in the media and online concerning the lease for 20 Airport Road, in which Animal Health Care (AHC) is currently located. The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission (MVAC) would like to provide some much-needed factual information concerning the lease for this property. 

1) As required by Massachusetts General Law, anytime a municipal property’s lease expires, the entity responsible for that property is required to issue a request for proposal (RFP) to the public in order to solicit bids for that property. The reasons for this process should be obvious, but it is intended to ensure a fair and open process for the leasing of public property. This is exactly what the airport commission has done for this property. The MVAC is not allowed by state law to just award it to the current tenant. An RFP was issued on Feb. 12, and responses are due back on March 29. The responses will then be evaluated based upon multiple factors, including best use, impact to the community, and meeting the minimum lease rate, which is $12,000 per month, which was set by an independent assessment. Highest-price bid is not, repeat, not, the determining factor. 

2) The seven airport commissioners are all appointed by the Dukes County Commission for a three-year term. Again, this is specified by Massachusetts General Law, which states that all airport commissioners in the commonwealth are appointed by the town or county which owns the airport. All commissioners are sworn in by the clerk of the court to uphold the laws of the commonwealth and the Constitution of the United States. All seven of us take this oath very seriously. In addition, our common mission is to ensure the safety of the users of the airport by complying with all the regulations of the federal and state government. In addition, we strive to make the airport a good neighbor for the Island community, since we are also neighbors ourselves. Airport commissioners are volunteers, and do not receive any compensation. 

3) The airport is not a for-profit entity. Airports in general receive their revenue through multiple sources, including government grants, landing fees, fuel sales, property leases (both aviation and non-aviation), and funds from the town or county that owns the airport. The Martha’s Vineyard Airport is among the few that does not take any funds from the owner, specifically the county. 

Anyone with questions is encouraged to ask a commissioner in order to make comments based upon facts. 

The situation with the availability of veterinarian services on the Island goes way beyond the issue with AHC. Two practices have already closed, and no one has moved to the Island to start a practice. The problem is of course the availability of housing and the cost of living on MVY, which affects every profession here, teachers, doctors, plumbers … the list goes on. 

Jack Ensor, Richard Knabel, Don Ogilvie, Bob Rosenbaum, Geoff Wheeler, Bob Zeltzer, Kristin Zern
Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission