Thursday, March 28, 2019 – 5:57pm
Last year at town meeting, voters overwhelmingly approved $1.2 million for a new hangar at the Katama Airfield. That appropriation was in addition to some reserve funds and Community Preservation Act money for the $1.6 million plan.
Two days later at the ballot box the funding was defeated by three votes 466-469. A tense recount put the vote at a tie, 468 to 468, effectively defeating the measure.
This year, the fate of the hangar is back in the hands of Edgartown voters when they go to town meeting on April 9, and two days later to the ballot box for a Proposition 2 1/2 override question. The project has a reduced price, with voters asked to approve $950,000.
Hal Findlay, chairman of the Katama airfield commission, said the commission has raised an additional $175,000 in private donations for the project. He said a new hangar will benefit everyone in Edgartown, not just people who use the airport.
“It’s truly something that makes Edgartown special,” Mr. Findlay said. “If you can accept that this land is best used as a small airport, an airport needs a hangar. A hangar is what comes along with enjoying these wide open spaces. We’re doing our best to raise money to help the town do this. We’re doing our best to manage this in a way that we both preserve the historic look and feel of the airfield, at the lowest possible cost to the town.”
Since the warrant article involves borrowing money, it must be approved by two-thirds vote at town meeting. At the April 13 town election, a simple majority is needed to override Proposition 2 1/2 and move the measure forward.
The hangar project has had a long and complicated history in Edgartown. The latest effort to replace the structure began more than 10 years ago, and has been before town meeting numerous times. The town owns the hangar and the airfield, but the Nature Conservancy holds a conservation restriction on the property. That restriction was the subject of a protracted legal tussle before being resolved.
Father Michael Nagle, a member of the Katama airport commission, hopes the lower cost to the town will win votes.
“We raised some more money on our own from donations, and we got a better quote from another builder, so it looks like we’ll be able to put it together for less, if the voters approve it,” he said.
He said that a recount is something he would rather not have to go through again.
“I’d rather it passed with a good margin. The design has it capable of housing three airplanes. Some of the people that come in like to keep them inside. That would generate some revenue. It’s just a better atmosphere to welcome people to Edgartown, to the Vineyard.”
Father Nagle added that the current hangar has far outlived its usefulness. It was constructed from salvaged lumber and materials after a 1944 hurricane destroyed two hangars on the grounds.
“It’s a hazard really, you can’t put anything in there,” he said.
Read original article: https://vineyardgazette.com/news/2019/03/28/katama-hangar-heads-back-voters