In response to a letter and phone calls from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says that the Navy will not remove the siding from Moffett Field's historic Hangar One until the White House makes a decision on its restoration.
"It is my intention that no siding will be removed from the hangar until the arbitration process has concluded," Mabus writes. "Once OMB's decision has been made, the Navy will work with all parties to ensure that the 30 month remediation effort supports future plans for Hangar One."
The Navy is responsible for toxic cleanup of Hangar One's asbestos- and PCB-laden siding, while NASA Ames is the owner of the property and would like to see the structure re-used.
The two agencies asked the White House Office of Management and Budget to make a decision on how the hangar would be restored after negotiations broke down over funding for the restoration project, which could cost over $15 million.
Two weeks ago the Navy made a surprise announcement that it was awarding a contract to remove the siding regardless of the OMB's decision, which drew criticism from Eshoo as well as the city of Mountain View, the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board and local preservationists. The concern is that leaving Hangar One as a bare skeleton would cause irreversible corrosion damage to its steel frame.
Mabus said de-skinning the Hangar wouldn't begin for at least six months.
"We are sensitive to the desires of the city and recognize the historic significance of Hangar One to the local area," he wrote.
"I'm extremely pleased with the Secretary's letter," Eshoo said in a press release. "Our conversations have been very productive and I'm pleased that he is committed to a remediation plan that supports future plans for Hangar One."
"It is clear that the Secretary will not allow any siding to come down until the Office of Management and Budget has issued a decision," she said.