Mountain View Voice

News - September 12, 2008

Council prods Navy on Hangar One

by Daniel DeBolt

The City Council reiterated its position Tuesday that the Navy should re-skin Hangar One rather than leave it a bare skeleton, and after several strongly worded remarks, members decided to send the Navy a letter on the issue.

"I can't believe the idea of leaving the skeletal structure out in the open is even an idea being discussed," said council member Matt Pear.

"Just having a skeleton sitting there for birds to destroy is not the way to go," said council member Ronit Bryant.

Though not yet written, the letter will include a request for specifics on how the Navy came up with the $14.9 million estimate to re-skin the hangar. The city also will request that the Navy "assess in greater detail" the negative effects of leaving the bare frame behind.

Council member Laura Macias wondered why the Navy was not required to study the environmental impacts as required for city projects. City staff said the Navy is not required by law to follow those rules.

If the Navy will not restore the hangar, the city wants the Navy to work with NASA to make sure the restoration can happen concurrently with clean-up, which could save money on scaffolding. The city also wants the coating left on the bare frame inspected more than once every five years for any leeching of the lead paint left underneath. And the Navy should study the coating the Thomarios Corporation applied to Hangar One's sister in Akron Ohio as a possibly viable alternative to removing the siding, the city says.

The city also would like the hangar brought into code compliance during restoration.

Council member Jac Siegel pointed out that the Navy restored as many as 40 other buildings at the Moffett Field superfund site, and that the only reason it was shirking its responsibility on Hangar One was the cost.

There were seven public speakers, all of them in favor of the restoration of Hangar One.

Paul Asmus, president of Humanitarian Air Logistics, which would like to use the hangar for humanitarian relief operations, said he was concerned about creating a bird colony on the airfield if Hangar One's skeleton was left out in the open.

"Birds are a serious safety concern," he said. "Birds and aircraft don't mix."

Asmus mentioned an incident in Alaska where a flock of geese caused a plane crash that killed a crew of 24.

"Hangar One is a landmark and this is our chance to get it right," said local resident Jeff Segal.

Lenny Siegel, an expert on Moffett Field restoration, warned that the city needed to work quickly with NASA to formalize a public process for deciding on a use for Hangar One, "or we'll have to pay twice for the mobilization costs" of the scaffolding.

Architect Linda Ellis answered questions about her proposed Teflon fiberglass siding for Hangar One, which would cost an estimated $12 million and allow daylight to penetrate but not the elements. This would make the hangar a more environmentally friendly building by saving electricity, she said.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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