The federal government has concluded that NASA Ames will have to pay for any restoration of historic Hangar One on its own and without the Navy's help, leaving the structure with no designated restoration funding even as it faces partial demolition later this year.
The decision, released Friday, caps months of review by the White House Office of Management and Budget, which last year took over negotiations between NASA and the Navy over how to pay for renovating the iconic 200-foot-tall structure, slated to be de-skinned this November as part of the Navy's clean-up obligations at Moffett Field.
The OMB's conclusion puts the situation back to where it was last year, when NASA said it could not afford the $15 million-plus to re-skin Hangar One. This year the NASA Ames Research Center is seeing a substantial increase in funding, but has not commented on whether it can now afford to re-skin the hangar.
Hangar One's siding is layered with PCBs and asbestos, and the Navy is in contract to have the siding completely removed in November to meet EPA standards. As a result of community pressure, the Navy will stop short of completely removing the skeletal frame.
Preservationists say that unless funding is provided by Congress or someone else -- perhaps a private developer allowed to restore and lease out the hangar -- it appears that the massive skeletal frame will be left to the elements come November. That situation is opposed by every elected official in the area.
The OMB's decision was announced by Navy representative Kathryn Stewart in a March 5 e-mail: "This is to inform you that the OMB arbitration process has concluded. The outcome of the OMB process was a determination that the Navy is responsible for environmental cleanup actions, and NASA is responsible for Hangar One reuse and residing. Navy and NASA will continue to work together to determine the most appropriate path forward for coordinating the Navy's cleanup activities with NASA's reuse."
The two parties originally had been negotiating directly, but last year, after NASA began to fear it was taking on too many obligations in the deal, those talks broke down and negotiations were sent to the OMB in hopes that a workable solution could be found.
On his blog at www.nuqu.org, Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board member Steve Williams wrote that "those of us who want to see Hangar One re-skinned must now get Congress to appropriate the money to NASA, or we must work to find the money from other sources. Yep, after years of effort, our work has just begun."
The Moffett RAB is set to discuss Hangar One this Thursday, March 11 at 7 p.m. in Building 943, located just outside the Moffett main gate.