Mountain View Voice

News - January 29, 2010

Navy renews vow to strip Hangar One

To save landmark structure, 'There needs to be a plan' for reuse, Eshoo says

by Daniel DeBolt

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo said Tuesday that a serious plan for reusing Hangar One must be in place if Congress is likely to fund restoration of the historic landmark at Moffett Field.

"If part of the partnership is the Congress of the United States, they are going to want to know what we want to do with the money," Eshoo told the Voice. "They are going to want to know if it makes sense. Is it going to be used for a museum or used by others in the community? There needs to be a plan."

Concern over Hangar One has reached new heights since Jan. 14, when Navy spokesperson Kathryn Stewart told the Moffett Restoration Advisory Board that the Navy plans to tear off Hangar One's siding in November of this year. With no plan or funding in place to re-skin it, local elected officials have unanimously opposed the idea of leaving the historic structure as a steel skeleton.

To address the problem, Eshoo said she would be meeting "as soon as possible" with NASA, which owns Hangar One, and the Navy, which is responsible for cleaning up the toxic asbestos and PCBs embedded in Hangar One's siding. The White House Office of Management and Budget, which has been arbitrating an agreement between the Navy and NASA on Hangar One's restoration, has also requested to be a part of the meeting, she said.

The comments from Stewart on Jan. 14 appear to contradict previous comments from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who had said in a letter to Eshoo that it was his "intention" to wait for a decision from the OMB before removing Hangar One's siding.

When asked if she was surprised about Stewart's comments to the contrary, Eshoo said, "The person that speaks for the Navy is the secretary of the Navy. I did receive a letter from Secretary Mabus a while back assuring me the Navy would not take down the siding before the OMB renders its decision. My understanding is that his position hasn't changed."

Eshoo was also pressed about what she would do to "prepare for the worst" if there was not a good plan for reusing Hangar One.

"I am not thinking that way," she said. "I don't build on the negative. I work on a positive viewpoint. This by no means is over."

Meeting site to be scrapped

Building 943, located just outside the main gate at Moffett Field, has been the ideal meeting location for the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board, or RAB, for years. But it is now set to be demolished in March.

Kathryn Stewart, Navy co-chair for the RAB, said she would be looking for another location for the group's next meeting, possibly within Moffett's main security gate.

As the battle to save historic Hangar One heats up, preservationists are concerned about how any location change could affect turnout for future RAB meetings. RAB member Steve Williams said that forcing people to come through the Moffett main gate, where a security guard requires valid government identification, would have a "chilling effect" on future meetings. He said it was appropriate to have the meeting at Moffett, and called for the Navy to demand that NASA allow people to pass through the gate for the meeting without being checked. That spurred a discussion in which most said the gate was an unnecessary security measure.

Recent discussions by the RAB about Hangar One have included concerns about what will happen to the windows, which are an important part of the hangar's character, members say. The hangar's interior structures, scheduled to be demolished in late March, are also a concern.

NASA spokesperson Rachel Prucy said Building 943 was being torn down as part of a NASA program to demolish non-historic buildings at Moffett that are no longer feasible to maintain. The gift shop inside would be moved to the tent next door.

The location and time of the next Moffett RAB meeting will be announced on the Navy's Base Realignment and Closure Web site, www.bracpmo.navy.mil.

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

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