|A group of local preservationists spent two hours venting last week about the latest report on Hangar One recently issued by the Navy, followed by a unanimous vote to pitch an idea to local city councils: Create an official committee of local citizens to evaluate options for re-using Moffett's historic building.
The Save Hangar One Committee, or SHOC, voted unanimously in favor of the idea during last Thursday's Restoration Advisory Board meeting after reviewing the Navy's report, which recommends that Hangar One's toxic siding be torn off and the steel skeleton left with only a coating of paint to protect it.
An image of birds taking over the bare skeleton as nesting grounds was invoked, and some warned that would result in frame corrosion from the acidic bird droppings.
"I'm in the coating business, that's what I do," said one man at the RAB meeting. "If the birds get to it, forget it. You will have internal oxidization of the metal and you would need an X-ray to inspect it. What a mess."
Authorities estimate they'll need $15 million to install new siding on the frame -- funds which may be available from the federal government, preservationists believe, but only if a good plan for the hangar is supported by locals through an official committee. A similar committee formed in the 1990s to come up with a plan for Moffett Field after the Navy left in 1994, resulting in plans for the NASA Research Park.
SHOC will now begin to approach local city councils, particularly Mountain View's and Sunnyvale's, on the subject of creating an official committee on Hangar One. SHOC member Lenny Siegel asked for a show of hands on the idea, and no one was opposed.
While the fate of Hangar One is largely up the Navy, locals believe the Navy is required to restore the hangar and make it re-useable under Base Re-Alignment and Closure law.
It is also subject to the National Historic Preservation Act, said Siegel, who also represents the Center for Public Environmental Oversight. That law requires that the Navy restore the building if it is practical to do so.
SHOC member Steve Williams blames the mess on a "sweetheart deal" the Navy must have gotten when it left the base to NASA in 1994.
"With the stroke of a pen the Navy's job got much easier," he said.
So far, NASA Ames has not officially stated any plans for Hangar One. It's possible NASA could obtain the $15 million for new siding through a lease arrangement with a private or public operation.
One such operation that would like to use Hangar One is a nonprofit called Humanitarian Air Logistics. President Paul Asmus attended Thursday's meeting and described his unique business plan: Contract with the U.S. government to provide humanitarian relief during domestic and international disasters.
He revealed that he had talked to NASA Ames about using another of Moffett's hangars, and was expecting to pay between $3 million and $4 million to house a mix of 16 repainted military helicopters, planes and jumbo jets there. He says he has received positive responses in Washington, and adds that his operation could have saved the country money in providing earthquake relief to China last May.
Asmus seemed to want SHOC to endorse his business plan, but Siegel said the group could not, especially because members disagreed about the sort of uses that are best for the hangar and airfield. Some want more flights out of Moffett, while others, like Siegel, would like to see an air and space museum at the hangar and the airfield annexed into the city for parks or housing.
A public meeting on the Navy's decision is going to be held on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Santa Clara, 2120 Walsh Ave.
For more information, visit www.savehangarone.org or www.nuqu.org.
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