After eight years of legal wrangling, Edgartown selectmen cleared the way Monday for a new aircraft hangar at Katama Airfield.
Selectmen signed a complex series of five land agreements and amendments to conservation restrictions that give the town control over a two-acre parcel where the current World War II-era hangar is located, and grant limited authority for the town to renovate and expand the dilapidated structure.
The agreement also places new conservation restrictions on nearly 84 acres of town-controlled land at the historic grass airfield situated in the sandy coastal perimeters of Edgartown.
The new hangar has been planned for years, but ran into problem after problem as the town negotiated with state officials and The Nature Conservancy, which each have some control over the Katama Airfield. The Nature Conservancy was granted control over use of the land after the town acquired the airfield in 1988.
‘We finally get to replace the old hangar,’ said selectman Michael Donaroma, just before voting, along with chairman Margaret Serpa, to sign the agreements. Selectman Arthur Smadbeck did not attend the meeting.
‘Now all we have to do is get it built,’ said conservation commission chairman Edward (Peter) Vincent Jr.
The Nature Conservancy still has the right to approve the design, with certain protections for the town.
Plans call for a new building of 6,000 square feet, more than double the size of the current hangar. Among other things, the new design calls for corrugated siding to keep the appearance of a 1940s vintage building.
Completed in 1945, the original hangar was built almost entirely with scrap materials from buildings destroyed in a hurricane the year before.
Since the airfield is still actively used by small planes, the hangar renovation has a practical purpose. But altering conservation restrictions is a complicated procedure and wound up taking years to complete.
According to the agreement, the town will place two parcels totalling 62.5 acres under a conservation restriction. Known as the Nickerson and Atkins parcels, both are part of the Katama Airfield property and were part of the town’s original acquisition, but were not included in the original conservation restriction.
Also according to the agreement, a town-owned parcel of 21.2 acres off Pennywise Path will be transferred to the care and control of the conservation commission. Five acres of that land will be restricted for conservation, and the remaining 16.2 acres can be used for conservation, parks and recreation, water supply and installation of a solar array of up to six acres.