Eshoo sees progress on Hangar One deal | January 27, 2012 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - January 27, 2012

Eshoo sees progress on Hangar One deal

Offer by Google execs is still hung up at NASA headquarters

by Andrea Gemmet

Google's $32 million offer to restore Hangar One's siding still hasn't been accepted, but there has been progress, said Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

"I'm working with the White House, because this is one hell of an offer," Eshoo told the Voice last week.

"All the stakeholders support this," she said. "It's a short sentence, but it's a big deal."

The gargantuan hangar is in the midst of having its toxin-laced siding removed, but funds to replace the siding were stripped from the NASA budget by Congressional Republicans last year. In October, Google's top executives offered to pay for the restoration in exchange for a lease on part of Hangar One to house their private fleet of aircraft, but there's been no response from NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

The offer from Google is now on the desk of the White House's liaison with the House of Representatives, said Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

Eshoo had no kind words to spare for Bolden, whom she characterized as unresponsive. "I don't know what's wrong with (him), if he's like a deer frozen in headlights or he's stupid or what," she said.

Eshoo said she'd been sending letters to Bolden every month, with no response. Her last letter was so terse, she finally got a phone call from him, she said. "I don't think your staff has served you very well," she said she told Bolden. "At least just send a canned letter and say we'll get back to you in five years."

Without Google's offer to foot the bill, there is no other funding in sight to restore Hangar One, the iconic 200-foot-tall structure built in the 1930s to house the airship the U.S.S. Macon. The interior has been gutted, and work to reduce the hangar to a bare frame is scheduled for completion this September.

In a unique agreement that allows use of the federal airfield for personal flights, the Google executives' planes have been stored in Hangar 211 at Moffett since 2007 under a $1.3 million-a-year lease agreement that allows use of the aircraft for NASA's scientific work. The offer to restore and replace the siding on the hangar is in exchange for a long-term lease for a fleet of eight aircraft overseen by Google's H211 LLC.

While the Navy is overseeing the environmental cleanup to remove the siding and other toxins from Hangar One, NASA is responsible for footing the bill for the restoration.

Eshoo, who was at Moffett Field last week for a medal ceremony for World War II veteran Carl Clark, said she made sure to point out the half-stripped hangar to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus when he arrived at Hangar 651. Eshoo said her tenacious nature hasn't gone unnoticed by Mabus. "He said to me, 'Anna, you're like gum stuck to my shoe,'" she said.


Posted by John Meyer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I agree with Rep. Eshoo - NASA Administrator Bolden is indeed "stupid". He is turning down free money - non-taxpayer money from a local business - to preserve both a historic artifact and an immensely useful building.